First place is a lot more fun when you win. Just ask the Texas Rangers.
Ian Kinsler led off the game with a home run, Derek Holland won for the first time since mid-May and the AL West-leading Rangers stopped their five-game losing streak with an 8-1 victory over the Toronto Blue Jays on Wednesday night.
"When you're not doing what you want to do, the mood can get somber," Rangers manager Ron Washington said. "We just had to get back to doing what we can do. Tonight we did, and tonight we had some fun."
Nelson Cruz also homered for Texas, which had lost seven straight to the Blue Jays since a victory on opening day.
"We want to make sure we enjoy this time," Rangers infielder Michael Young said. "It's toward the end of the season, this is what we've worked so hard for and we're going to enjoy it."
Young and Kinsler said the Rangers returned to their preferred style of play, full of energy and enthusiasm, taking the game to the opponent.
"We forced them to get back on their heels a little bit and that's the type of baseball that we play normally," Kinsler said. "It's nice to get back to that."
Kinsler hit the 13th leadoff home run of his career and first this season. Cruz launched a two-run drive off the center-field restaurant in the ninth, his 17th.
Jeff Francoeur added three hits for the Rangers.
Holland (3-3) left after five scoreless innings. He gave up only three singles and struck out eight.
"I was using all my pitches," Holland said. "Me and (catcher Bengie Molina) were definitely on the same page."
Texas had surrendered seven homers in the first two games of this series but gave up just one in this game, Jose Molina's solo blast in the eighth.
"Derek and the other pitchers did a great job and we stopped them from putting up runs via the home run," Washington said. "I do believe that as long as we can keep them in the ballpark, we're going to beat them."
Holland had lost his past three decisions, and was winless since beating the Angels on May 17. He missed 54 games in June and July with shoulder and knee problems and returned to the rotation last week when righty Rich Harden was moved to the bullpen.
The left-hander was hit hard in his only other appearance against the Blue Jays, allowing a career-high 10 runs in three innings of an 18-10 home loss on Aug. 31, 2009.
Molina's drive to left was the only run for the Blue Jays, who extended their streak of games with at least one homer to 10.
The crowd of 10,616 marked the second straight night and seventh time this season the Blue Jays have played before fewer than 11,000 fans.
Matt Harrison worked the sixth for Texas and Darren O'Day left after Molina's leadoff homer in the eighth. Darren Oliver replaced him and finished the inning before Neftali Feliz pitched the ninth.
Kinsler homered on the fifth pitch of the game from Marc Rzepczynski (1-4), now winless in five starts. The homer was Kinsler's eighth.
"I was just trying to get something started quick, trying to hit a ball hard and get a little fire going," Kinsler said.
It was the Rangers' first leadoff homer since Kinsler connected off Rzepczynski on Sept. 1, 2009.
Texas added one more in the first when Young walked and Vladimir Guerrero and Francoeur hit a broken-bat single.
Young had an RBI single in the fifth, and the Rangers made it 4-0 with an unearned run off Brian Tallet in the sixth, with Francoeur scoring on a throwing error by shortstop Yunel Escobar.
Bengie Molina hit an RBI single off Josh Roenicke in the Texas eighth and the Rangers capped it with three in the ninth off left-hander David Purcey. Cruz homered to left-center and David Murphy had an RBI single.
Singles by John Buck and Jose Molina and a fielder's choice grounder from Mike McCoy gave Toronto runners at the corners with two outs in the fifth, but Holland ended his outing by getting Escobar to line out to short.
Notes: Rangers OF Josh Hamilton (sore ribs) played catch before the game, his first baseball activity since crashing into the outfield wall in Minnesota last Saturday. His return date is still unknown. ... Texas LHP Cliff Lee (back) will return to the rotation Sunday against New York. ... Toronto OF Fred Lewis, who had missed the past five games with a sore right elbow, pinch-hit in the eighth and flied out. ... Blue Jays 3B John McDonald (sore left arm) was scratched from the lineup and replaced by Jarrett Hoffpauir.