Derek Holland hasn't been at his best lately.
A start against the struggling Seattle Mariners could be exactly what he needs to get back on track.
Holland will try to extend his 19 2-3-inning scoreless streak visiting the Mariners on Saturday night when the AL West-leading Texas Rangers go for their fifth consecutive victory in this divisional matchup.
After posting a 0.60 ERA while winning his first two starts in May, Holland (3-2, 3.30 ERA) has surrendered four runs and eight hits in each of his last two. The left-hander went a season-low 4 2-3 innings in Sunday's 11-8 win over Detroit, allowing as many homers (two) as he had in his first eight starts.
Holland, though, hasn't given up any runs in Seattle since his first game there July 10, 2009. Since that relief appearance, and another one two days later that lasted 2 2-3 innings, he has logged 16 2-3 scoreless innings in two starts at Safeco Field. Holland pitched 7 2-3 scoreless innings in a 3-2 victory at Seattle on July 13.
He'll face a Mariners team that's dropped a season-high seven straight following Friday's 9-5 defeat.
The Mariners (20-28), who had won eight of 11 at home, were back in town after getting outscored 35-9 in the final four games of a 2-7 trip that ended with Wednesday's 7-1 loss to the Los Angeles Angels .
Seattle's last eight-game slide was a franchise-worst 17-game skid July 6-26, 2011.
A start by Felix Hernandez (5-3, 2.07) on Saturday would seem to be exactly what the Mariners need to avoid that, but even their ace has run into some problems.
The former Cy Young winner permitted a season-high six runs in a season-low five innings in Sunday's 6-0 loss at Cleveland. Hernandez had not allowed more than one earned run in any of his previous six outings."You're going to have games like that when a couple of things happen and you make a couple of mistakes," manager Eric Wedge said.
Hernandez, who made his last four starts outside Seattle, is 1-1 with a 1.99 ERA in three outings at Safeco Field this season. The worst of those starts came against Texas on April 11, when he was tagged for four runs and a season-high 10 hits in six innings.
Texas' A.J. Pierzynski, who hit a solo homer off Hernandez in that game, is tied with Adrian Beltre with a team-best eight hits as the Rangers have won six of eight from Seattle this season.
Mariners third baseman Kyle Seager , 3 for 5 with two doubles Friday, has twice as many hits (14 for 31) off Rangers pitching this season as any of his teammates. He's 4 for 11 with a homer against Holland.
Kendrys Morales , who has two doubles in 10 at-bats versus Holland, is 9 for 17 over the last four games.
Mariners infielder Carlos Triunfel could make his first start of the season Saturday after flying out as a pinch-hitter Friday. He was called up earlier in the day along with catcher Jesus Sucre , who went 1 for 4 in his major league debut.
|May 18, 2013||Ian Kinsler||15-Day DL||Right intercostal strain|
|May 16, 2013||Alexi Ogando||15-Day DL||Right biceps tendinitis|
|May 06, 2013||A.J. Pierzynski||15-Day DL||Strained right oblique|
|May 06, 2013||A.J. Pierzynski||15-Day DL||Strained right oblique|
|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|
|May 16, 2013||Aaron Harang||Day-to-Day||Lower back stiffness|
|April 23, 2013||Franklin Gutierrez||15-Day DL||Strained right hamstring|
|April 22, 2013||Franklin Gutierrez||Day-to-Day||Torn right hamstring|
|April 15, 2013||Stephen Pryor||60-Day DL||Torn right lat muscle|
|April 12, 2013||Michael Morse||Day-to-Day||Fractured finger|
|April 11, 2013||Michael Saunders||15-Day DL||Sprained right shoulder|
SEATTLE (AP) -- Texas manager Ron Washington made the decision that when David Murphy was in the lineup, he'd be put higher in the order.
Washington's hope was to get Murphy involved in the game quicker, just as he did on Saturday night when Murphy hit second.
Murphy drove in three runs, Nelson Cruz hit his 12th homer of the season and the Rangers roughed up Seattle ace Felix Hernandez in a 5-2 victory, handing the Mariners their eighth straight loss.
"Tonight things were definitely clicking a little bit. They've definitely been clicking a little bit more the last week or two and hopefully that trend continues," Murphy said. "I've had some success over the last week or two but I still can't quite say I felt like myself. Tonight I did feel a little bit more like myself."
Derek Holland continued to pitch well in Seattle, easily getting the better of the matchup against Hernandez. Holland (4-2) went 6 2-3 innings, striking out a season-high 10, allowing no earned runs and winning for the first time since May 8 after a pair of no-decisions.
Holland had gone 21 1-3 consecutive scoreless innings pitching against the Mariners at Safeco Field before giving up a two-out, two-run double to Kendrys Morales in the third inning. Holland would not have faced Morales, if not for Elvis Andrus ' error on a grounder from Michael Morse .
With Morse reaching, Morales lined a 0-2 fastball off the top of the wall in right field, missing a home run by only a few feet and Morse racing around from first to score and cut the deficit to 3-2.
That ended up being the extent of Seattle's offense against the Texas lefty. Holland struck out the side in the fourth and got Jason Bay and Kyle Seager swinging in the fifth after Brendan Ryan 's leadoff single.
Holland retired 12 of the final 15 batters he faced. He couldn't finish off the seventh, getting replaced with two outs after issuing a walk to Bay. Robbie Ross entered and got Seager to pop out on the first pitch.
Holland is now 3-0 in his career against the Mariners in Seattle and has yet to allow an earned run there. Joe Nathan pitched the ninth for his 16th save.
"I've got to go out and try and match the pitcher. That's what it really comes down to," Holland said. "I thought I did a good job trying to stay with (Hernandez) pitch for pitch. Obviously I got to go a little longer than him, but that's a great pitcher on the other side and I'm trying to make a name for myself."
Hernandez (5-4) was trying to rebound from a poor outing in his last start at Cleveland, but continued to leave pitches up in the strike zone and Texas took advantage. Hernandez finished with nine strikeouts, but the 11 hits were a season high, giving up at least one hit in every inning.
"The last couple of games he hasn't been his typical self, that's for sure," Seattle manager Eric Wedge said.
Texas didn't pound the ball early against Hernandez. None of the first five hits Hernandez allowed was hit hard, yet it was enough that he was quickly trailing. Mitch Moreland opened the second inning with a dribbler down the left-field line past the Mariners defensive shift, followed by A.J. Pierzynski's grounder on a hit-and-run that got by Seager playing close at third.
Jurickson Profar then dumped a 0-2 sinker over the infield to score Moreland. Pierzynski was thrown out at the plate for the second out of the inning, but Murphy made sure the opportunity wasn't missed with his double to score Profar and Andrus.
Hernandez avoided giving up a run in the fourth when Michael Saunders made a leaping catch of Murphy's drive while crashing into the wall. Hernandez got Adrian Beltre to ground into a double play in the fifth, but Cruz immediately followed with his drive to right field.
Texas knocked out Hernandez with two outs in the sixth and Murphy capped the night with an RBI single off reliever Oliver Perez . Murphy has raised his batting average 61 points this month, now up to .229.
"We need David and we know what David is capable of doing," Washington said. "What we saw the first month-and-a-half is not David Murphy . What you're seeing right now is David Murphy . Hopefully he can sustain it."
NOTES: Texas is 7-2 against Seattle this season. ... Hernandez is now 12-18 against Texas. The Rangers are one of three American League teams that Hernandez has a losing record against. The others are the Angels (7-12) and White Sox (3-5). ... Nathan converted his 36th straight save opportunity on the road. ... Seattle announced after the game 1B Justin Smoak suffered a strained oblique. He'll be re-evaluated on Sunday.