Texas Rangers: Luke Scott
ARLINGTON, Texas -- After a solid start to the season, Derek Holland picked up losses in two straight starts for the first time since August of 2010.
Holland had trouble locating his fastball at times, giving up five runs on nine hits in seven innings of work in a 5-2 loss to Tampa Bay on Sunday.
The lefty said it's a little too early to push the panic button.
"It's not like I'm out there trying to walk people or throw around people," Holland said. "I'm throwing strikes and going after them, so I'm not going to change anything."
In the two losses, Holland was also going up against two of the best American League lineups in the Rays and Yankees.
"The main thing is just to continue grinding," Holland said. "You're going to have days like today. I thought I was going to have everything working for me. I just got too much plate. That's the only bad part."
While his fastball was off, he was in better command of his secondary pitches. It might be a little comforting to manager Ron Washington and the Rangers that he struck out eight batters in seven innings Sunday night. He had just one strikeout in six innings against the Yankees.
Holland stressed that he and catcher Yorvit Torrealba worked in sync on what he wanted to throw -- he said he was just missing the spots.
"Everything was working on the same page with what we want to throw," Holland said. "It was just location that kind of hurt me, and we'll continue grinding through it and not worry too much about it."
Holland pitched a perfect first inning but unraveled in the second. Jeff Keppinger had an RBI single after Ben Zobrist's leadoff triple. B.J. Upton and Luke Scott followed with back-to-back doubles. Sean Rodriguez added a sacrifice fly to put the Rays up 3-1 before Holland retired the next two batters.
Holland gave up another run in the third on an RBI double by Zobrist.
With long reliever Scott Feldman getting loose in the bullpen, Holland decided he wasn't done by striking out the side in the fourth inning, then getting out of the next two innings unscathed. He gave up another run in the seventh on a Desmond Jennings RBI triple.
Holland said he still feels like there aren't a lot of adjustments to make to get back to his winning ways.
"I don't really feel like too much is wrong," Holland said. "I threw all my pitches for strikes, so I'm not concerned with that. It's obviously just the location of getting the ball where it needed to be."
Washington didn't seem to concerned about it, either.
"In that second inning, he misplaced some fastballs," Washington said. "He got a grip on that, and had great secondary stuff. He left some fastballs up and they hit them."
Holland's next scheduled start is May 5 at Cleveland against veteran Derek Lowe.
The Texas Rangers finished a bumpy road trip on a high note, hanging a 6-4 loss on the Baltimore Orioles and former teammate Kevin Millwood.
The win salvaged a four-game series split with the Orioles. The team with the AL's worst record, however, won the season series, 6-4.
The Rangers went 2-5 on their road trip to Tampa Bay and Baltimore. But with the Angels and A's spinning their wheels in the AL West, Texas is still comfortable with the largest lead of any first-place team in the majors and returns home with a cushion of at least seven games.
Coming on the heels their 8-6 loss in Cliff Lee's shaky start Saturday, the Rangers needed the confidence boost from Sunday's victory. The AL Central-leading Minnesota Twins are coming in town Monday to start a four-game series.
Hunter made a mistake on the 0-2 fastball that Luke Scott turned into a 2-0 home run but otherwise was in complete control while improving his record to 10-2. Hunter had lasted only three innings in each of his previous two starts.
* With his three-run homer in the first inning, Josh Hamilton pulled even with Vladimir Guerrero for the team's RBI lead. That lasted until the fifth inning, when Guerrero pulled ahead with a three-run home run of his own, giving him 91 RBIs on the season.
Those two home runs provided all of the Rangers' offense.
* Leadoff man Elvis Andrus extended his hitting streak to 12 games on the game's second pitch. He went 2-for-4 to register his fourth multi-hit game during the streak.
* Millwood, who was traded from Texas to Baltimore in the offseason, gave up six runs on six hits with two walks and two strikeouts in six innings. He fell to 2-14 on the season. The 14 losses tied a career worst he set while going 10-14 for the Rangers in 2007.
* Through Friday's game, Guerrero had just three RBIs in August. He more than doubled that total over the weekend, with one Saturday and three more Sunday.
* Rookie first baseman Mitch Moreland showed poise in turning a 3-6-3 double play to end the seventh inning. He calmly fielded Cesar Izturis' grounder, threw accurately to Elvis Andrus to get Matt Weiters at second and got himself into position for the return throw at first to complete the double play.
* The Rangers missed a chance to add insurance after loading the bases with one out in the eighth inning. Taylor Teagarden popped out in foul territory to first baseman Ty Wigginton and Andres Blanco grounded out back to pitcher Mark Hendrickson to end the threat.
* After entering the series without a save in August, Neftali Feliz notched his second save in three days and 31st of the season. But it wasn't without incident. He fell behind 3-0 to leadoff hitter Ty Wigginton before battling back to a full count. Wigginton then sent a 97 mph fastball into the right-center seats.
After manager Ron Washington went to the mound to talk to his young closer, Feliz responded by blowing away Scott, Corey Patterson and Felix Pie. All three strikeouts came on 98 mph heaters.
With two outs in the bottom of the sixth, Hunter grooved an 0-2 fastball to Luke Scott, who deposited it over the right field wall for his 24th home run of the year.
The two-run shot pulled the Orioles within 6-3. Hunter got out of the inning without any further trouble.
After being treated rudely by his former teammates, Orioles starter Kevin Millwood is done for the day. Rick VandenHurk came out to start the seventh.
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