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Rangers Keep Slight Division Lead After Loss

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    NEWSLETTERS

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    Texas Rangers starter Derek Holland was in a jam right away, allowing the first two Seattle batters to reach before a strikeout and a double play.

    There was more trouble in the second, when the bases were loaded before a pair of comebackers -- the first that Holland fielded but never got out of his glove as a run scored. Then there was a single and a homer by Seattle to start the third.

    Still, the young left-hander held on to go six innings and left with the game tied before the Rangers lost 4-3 in their homestand finale Wednesday night. They play their next 10 games on the road.

    "Usually when Derek goes out there and he don't have his best stuff, it usually snowballs," manager Ron Washington. "But he checked himself. He got us six good innings and when he left the game, we were in it. ... It should be a sign of maturity. He should be proud of what he did."

    Holland was coming of a miserable performance last Friday against Cleveland, when he allowed six runs in only 1 2-3 innings before the Rangers rallied late to win that game in extra innings. That had come after Holland's four-hit shutout at Toronto in his previous start, his fourth complete game shutout this season -- the most for an AL lefty this season.

    "Instead of being 'Oh, shutout, oh, two-thirds of an inning,' I want it to be closer," he said. "Today, to me it's a good example, and I'm very happy with myself. Even though I didn't come out on top, I battled, that's the key thing. To battle through everything and grind everything out, I think that was huge."

    The Rangers finished 4-2 on the homestand and maintained a 1½-game lead in the AL West over the Los Angeles Angels, who lost 9-3 at Yankee Stadium earlier Wednesday.

    With the bases loaded in the second, Trayvon Robinson took a full swing and hit a dribbler in front of the plate. Holland fielded the ball but couldn't get it out of his glove as Franklin Gutierrez scored on the error. Ichiro Suzuki then hit another comebacker, but Holland made that play to get that runner out at the plate.

    "It's good I got to fight through it and they let me stay out there," said Holland, who struck out seven and walked five in his six innings. "It could have gone the other way, it could have been real bad. It's all about maturing."

    Josh Hamilton led off the Rangers fourth by pulling a liner into the right-field seats for his 14th homer.

    An inning later, Yorvit Torrealba led off with an infield single after catcher Miguel Olivo couldn't hold onto a foul pop near the Rangers dugout. Ian Kinsler's towering flyball fell just behind the 14-foot wall in left field for his 18th homer and a 3-all tie. Hamilton's inning-ending grounder stranded Elvis Andrus at third base after he had doubled and moved to third on a wild pitch.

    Jason Vargas (7-10) went seven innings with three strikeouts and four walks for Seattle. The left-hander threw a season-high 121 pitches to get his first win in his last seven starts -- he had gone 0-5 since his shutout within a month July 1 against San Diego.

    "He was in control of the ballgame. He really bowed his neck and got it done," manager Eric Wedge said. "We really needed this one. To salvage this one and head home was big for us and Jason stepped up."

    Seattle got the tiebreaking run in the seventh when Casper Wells hit a scorcher that took a hard, wicked hope over third baseman Michael Young and went into left field. Mike Carp scored after leading off the seventh with a single off Koji Uehara (1-2).

    "If he would have come up with it, it would have been great," Washington said. "But that ball was smoked."

    Jamey Wright got through the middle part of the Texas lineup allowing only a single in the eighth before Brandon League had the same line in the ninth to get his 27th save in 31 chances.

    NOTES: Kinsler had reached base six consecutive at-bats, going 2 for 2 with two walks before his game-ending groundout. ... The only AL left-handers this season with multiple shutouts are Holland (four) and Vargas (three). ... Washington spent part of Wednesday in his hometown of New Orleans for the announcement of a $5.3 million project to build an MLB urban youth academy there. ... Young, who Sunday became the first player in Rangers franchise history to get 2,000 hits, has donated the jersey he was wearing during that game to the National Baseball Hall of Fame. A Hall official was at the game Wednesday to pick up the jersey.