Hot-hitting Texas seeks a fourth consecutive victory while ending the host Angels' three-game winning streak in the opener of a three-game series Monday night.
After going 16-5 with a 3.95 ERA in 2011, Holland's numbers slipped last season as he finished 12-7 with a 4.67 ERA. Washington, though, maintained his confidence in Holland heading into this season, and he hasn't disappointed so far while going 1-1 with a 1.64 ERA.
He gave up only two hits while striking out six in seven scoreless innings of a 4-2 win over the Chicago Cubs on Tuesday. He's gone at least seven innings in each of his three starts, including allowing two runs in seven frames of Texas' 3-2 win over the Angels on April 5.
"Derek is certainly proving not only to us but to himself that he can be consistent," Washington told the team's official website. "It's nice to see him out there using all his pitches and throwing them for strikes. His breaking ball has much more depth.
"He's much better to me. He's a more polished pitcher. His stuff is consistent and has been consistent since Day 1 of spring training."
Despite his solid performance the last time he faced Los Angeles, the left-hander is 2-2 with a 6.09 ERA over his last five starts versus the Angels. He could be the benefactor, though, of the recently hot Texas offense, which came alive in a big way in Sunday's 11-3 win over Seattle to complete a three-game sweep.
The Rangers (12-6) led the majors in runs scored last season, but the offense sputtered at times before outscoring the Mariners 23-3. Nelson Cruz hit a grand slam while Mitch Moreland , Adrian Beltre and Leonys Martin also homered."We definitely took a step forward with the runs we put up over the three games," Moreland said. "If we can keep doing that, and keep taking care of business, and our pitching keeps throwing like they are, I think we'll be all right."
Texas looks to keep rolling as it faces the struggling Blanton, who hasn't gotten off to a very good start in his first season with the Angels.
Blanton has dropped each of his first three outings while posting a dismal 8.59 ERA. He's given up 15 runs in 14 2-3 innings, including four in 4 2-3 of an 8-2 loss to Minnesota last Monday.
"He hasn't been able to command counts the way he can, he hasn't been in good zones as often as he needs to be," Scioscia told the team's official website. "It's in him to be a better pitcher. He'll get there."
The right-hander is 6-2 with a 5.01 ERA in his last nine starts versus the Rangers, though he hasn't faced them since 2008.
Los Angeles (7-10) is coming off a three-game sweep of defending AL champion Detroit, as Mark Trumbo homered leading off the bottom of the 13th on Sunday."It was pretty well chronicled that we struggled early on. But three wins against a team of this caliber is an excellent sign," Trumbo said.
Former Ranger Josh Hamilton , hitting .176, went 0 for 5 on Sunday and has just one hit in his last 21 at-bats. He went 3 for 13 against his former team as Texas took two of three from April 5-7.
|April 20, 2013||Nick Tepesch||Day-to-Day||Left game - right arm bruise|
|April 11, 2013||Justin Miller||60-Day DL||Recovery from right elbow surgery|
|April 07, 2013||Matt Harrison||15-Day DL||Inflamed nerve in lower back|
|April 07, 2013||Yu Darvish||Day-to-Day||Left game - blister|
|March 24, 2013||Neftali Feliz||60-Day DL||Recovery from right elbow surgery|
|March 22, 2013||Joakim Soria||15-Day DL||Recovery from right elbow surgery|
|Los Angeles Angels|
|April 20, 2013||Mark Lowe||15-Day DL||Neck stiffness|
|April 13, 2013||Kevin Jepsen||15-Day DL||Right triceps tightness|
|April 11, 2013||Alberto Callaspo||Day-to-Day||Calf|
|April 11, 2013||Alberto Callaspo||15-Day DL||Right calf tightness|
|April 10, 2013||Erick Aybar||15-Day DL||Bruised left heel|
|April 09, 2013||Erick Aybar||Day-to-Day||Left game - bruised left heel|
ANAHEIM, Calif. (AP) -- The Angel Stadium fans already boo A.J. Pierzynski every time he comes to the plate. The Texas catcher figured he might as well give them another good reason.
Pierzynski hit a tiebreaking homer with two outs in the ninth inning, and the Rangers rallied from a late three-run deficit for a 7-6 win over the Los Angeles Angels on Monday night.
Shortly after Adrian Beltre 's drive fell inches short of the fence in the ninth, Pierzynski hit his fourth homer of the season to right off Angels closer Ernesto Frieri (0-1), capping an offense-dominated meeting between AL West rivals on three-game winning streaks.
"When I hit mine, I was afraid it wasn't going to go out, either," Pierzynski said. "Luckily it went just far enough."
Mitch Moreland had three hits and drove in a run for the Rangers, who also got three hits from Elvis Andrus in their fourth consecutive victory.
The Angels had a 6-3 lead after the sixth inning, but Texas tied it with three runs in the seventh - including an RBI single from Pierzynski right after he fouled a ball off his right kneecap.
Pierzynski is reviled in both of California's AL ballparks largely for his postseason exploits against the Angels and the Oakland Athletics over the years. The boos don't bother the 36-year-old veteran at all.
"I actually love it," he said. "It's an awesome atmosphere. This is one of my favorite ballparks. This is where I played my first big league game, so this is a special place to me."
Tanner Scheppers (2-0) pitched two innings of one-hit relief for the Rangers, and Joe Nathan worked the ninth for his sixth save.
Chris Iannetta doubled in the go-ahead run and Luis Jimenez got his first career RBIs on a two-run single during that sixth-inning rally for the Angels, who couldn't overcome Texas' 15 hits.
"We just kept fighting," Rangers manager Ron Washington said. "We had to scratch out some runs there at the end, but I felt like we had a chance all night. ... That's what A.J. is all about. He's an exciting player. I love him. A lot of people hate him, but I love him."
Josh Hamilton had four hits against his former team after getting bumped out of the cleanup spot, and Howie Kendrick had a two-run double for the Angels in the series opener. Los Angeles beat defending AL champion Detroit three times by a combined 22-4, while the Rangers won three straight over Seattle during their only home series in a 19-day span.
Frieri has been a dependable reliever since joining the Angels last season, but his power pitching wasn't enough to get past the Rangers' veterans in the ninth.
"They were all swinging because they know that I use my fastball and I keep doing it," Frieri said. "If I pitch tomorrow, I'm going to go out there with my best stuff. If I'm going to get beat, I'm going to get beat like that - using my best stuff. I'm not a breaking ball guy."
Albert Pujols was 0 for 5 for the Angels, while Mike Trout went 0 for 4 with a walk and failed to make a potential run-saving catch at the wall in the sixth inning. Mark Trumbo also went 0 for 4 with a walk as the Angels' cleanup hitter, striking out to end the game.
But Hamilton went 4 for 4 after getting dropped to the No. 5 spot in the lineup for the first time in his debut season with the Angels, who gave him $125 million to leave Texas last winter. Mired in a 1-for-21 slump, Hamilton moved down and immediately had his 16th career four-hit game - his first with the Angels.
"I didn't feel any different tonight than I have in the last three weeks," Hamilton said. "I just got four hits. I'd much rather win a ballgame and get no hits. Sometimes Wash would move me to the five hole. I don't know what it is about the five hole, but it seemed to work."
Derek Holland yielded six hits and six runs for Texas, walking four while pitching into the sixth inning in his rockiest start of a strong season.
Joe Blanton allowed 12 hits while pitching into the seventh for the Angels, leaving with a three-run lead before his bullpen wasted it. The veteran right-hander has struggled mightily in his first month with Los Angeles, starting 0-3.
Iannetta delivered a two-out RBI double to left in the sixth, chasing Holland. Jimenez followed with his two-run single off Jason Frasor for the rookie third baseman's first career RBIs.
But the Rangers' first six hitters all reached base in the seventh against four Angels pitchers. Pinch-hitter Jeff Baker tied it when Scott Downs dropped his high chopper in front of the plate.
NOTES: Opponents have walked Pujols five times this season to get to Hamilton, including twice on Sunday. Los Angeles manager Mike Scioscia said Hamilton's move to the fifth spot is likely a lefty-righty platoon with Trumbo for now, after Hamilton went 1 for 19 in the first three weeks against left-handers. ... The Angels put RHP Tommy Hanson on the bereavement list. He's likely to miss his scheduled start Wednesday against Texas, and RHP Jerome Williams is likely to replace him.