Ryan Dempster had some extra rest and a slider that was working.
This was more like the kind of performance from Dempster the AL West-leading Rangers were looking for when they traded for the right-hander three weeks ago.
After giving up eight runs twice in his first three Texas starts, Dempster limited the surprising Baltimore Orioles to a first-inning run and allowed only four hits over eight innings in a 5-1 victory Monday night.
"I was able to settle down after the first inning and just make pitches. I had a good slider," Dempster said. "I hadn't had that the couple times I've been here."
Dempster (2-1 in Texas, 7-6 overall) was pitching on extra rest after missing the weekend series in his native Canada for personal reasons. While he wasn't with the Rangers for the three games in Toronto and missed his scheduled start Saturday, he threw a bullpen session over the weekend.
In his 16 starts for the Cubs before the July 31 trade, Dempster had a 2.25 ERA and pitched eight innings twice. The last time was June 10 at Minnesota. He had an 8.31 ERA his first three starts for the Rangers.
"He's got a track record of a good pitcher. Those are the types of things guys like him are capable of doing," Orioles manager Buck Showalter said. "Obviously, he's a great addition for them. We did what we could do. Didn't hit many balls hard off of him. He kept the ball off the center of the plate. We ran into a pretty good pitcher."
Dempster retired the last 11 batters he faced before closer Joe Nathan, in a non-save situation, struck out the side in the ninth.
David Murphy had two RBI singles for the Rangers, who opened a 10-game homestand. All nine Texas starters had a hit.
Miguel Gonzalez (5-3), who had won his previous three decisions, gave up four runs in five innings.
Dempster needed only three pitches to get the first two Baltimore batters out before Nate McLouth doubled and scored on Adam Jones' soft single. That was the only run the Orioles got.
Only two runners reached second base against Dempster after that, and the last Baltimore batter to reach was Nick Markakis with a one-out single in the fifth. Dempster struck out six and walked two while throwing 111 pitches.
"He kept the ball down, had a good slider going, good changeup, good sinker, got ahead. That's what he's capable of doing," Rangers manager Ron Washington said. "He's not an overpowering guy. He has to execute his pitches, and tonight he executed. As long as he executes them, he's going to be fine."
The Orioles, who are in the hunt for one of the AL's two wildcard spots, lost for only the fifth time their last 16 games.
The Rangers took the lead for good with three runs in the fourth.
Gonzalez, who had won three consecutive decisions, gave up hits to the first two batters he faced. But the right-hander couldn't get out of a similar jam in the fourth.
Adrian Beltre had a leadoff single before Nelson Cruz walked. Murphy blooped a one-out single to left to tie the game at 1. Geovany Soto, who also came to Texas from the Cubs last month, followed with an RBI single before Mitch Moreland reached on an infield single. Ian Kinsler hit a sacrifice fly to make it 3-1.
"I thought Miguel was good. I thought he deserved a better fate. The game's not always fair," Showalter said. "Dempster was just a little better. There's not a whole lot there to talk about. Their guy pitched well."
Kinsler walked twice and was 1 for 2, but still had only six hits in 48 at-bats over his last 13 games.
Josh Hamilton led off the fifth with a single and scored on a double by Cruz. Murphy added another run-scoring single in the eighth.
"It's fun to play games like this," Murphy said. "We got a great performance out of Ryan Dempster. That's exactly the type of guy he is. He pounded the strike zone, but once we got him a little bit more of a lead, you could tell that he did it even more so."
Notes: Orioles 1B/DH Jim Thome, out since July 27 with a herniated disk in his neck, will start swinging off a tee and in the cages this week. Showalter says Thome will start his rehab Wednesday in Sarasota, Fla. ... Rangers SS Elvis Andrus had a standout defensive play in the fifth when he made a backhanded stop deep in the hole and threw out Manny Manchado at first base. ... Jones had two singles but is homerless in 88 at-bats. ... Markakis was 1 for 3 with a walk and is hitting .333 in 37 games as Baltimore's leadoff hitter.