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Rangers win walk-off on Olt's ninth-inning jolt

Rookie plates Cruz with two-out, pinch-hit single for dramatic win

ARLINGTON -- It didn't take long for Derek Holland to get into a groove. It did for the Rangers' offense.

Holland and three Rangers relievers held the Tigers scoreless after Austin Jackson hit his ninth career leadoff home run. But it wasn't until Mike Olt's walk-off single with two outs in the ninth that the Rangers secured a 2-1 victory over the Tigers at the Ballpark in Arlington on Saturday night.

"It was awesome to be a part of something like that. It's something I'll never forget," Olt said. "I was trying to hit something hard on the ground. ... It's something I'm going to build off. I've had some bumps along the road, so this will help."

Before Olt was called to pinch-hit for Mitch Moreland in the decisive ninth inning, the Rangers had not recorded a hit since the fourth off Justin Verlander and two relievers. But the rookie, who was called up from Double-A Frisco earlier this month, poked a 2-2 curveball from Phil Coke, the ninth pitch of the at-bat, through the left side of the infield as Nelson Cruz scored the winning run from second base.

"For a young kid, he looked calm to me," manager Ron Washington said. "He recognized that [Coke] was trying to get him out with the breaking ball. He made an adjustment. He threw two for strikes, swung at one and missed, but then he sat there and battled. He got a breaking ball and put it in play, found a hole."

Olt's clutch hit gave the Rangers their fifth walk-off win of the season and second of the month. It also marked the first time a Rangers rookie delivered a walk-off hit since May 5, 2000, when Mike Lamb delivered a game-winning single in a 17-16 victory over the A's.

"The report was he's a pretty good fastball hitter," Tigers catcher Gerald Laird said. "So we got ahead and tried to get him to chase something. He wasn't taking very good swings at the slider, so we kind of stayed with that. He caught one out in front and it found a hole."

After Omar Infante followed Jackson's fifth leadoff homer this season with a single, Holland retired nine straight batters and struck out six of the next seven he faced. Holland, who would not give up another hit until the fifth inning, sat down 10 hitters in a row before being pulled in the eighth and did not allow any of the final 24 he faced to reach second base.

"I just took a breather [after Infante's single] and gathered myself and executed my pitches," Holland said. "I had to match Verlander pitch for pitch. I was very happy with the outcome."

"He was terrific," Tigers manager Jim Leyland said. "He just ate us up with fastballs."

In 7 2/3 innings, Holland gave up one run on three hits while tying a season high with nine strikeouts, throwing 65 of his 102 pitches for strikes. He was 1-2 with a 7.00 ERA in his last four starts, allowing multiple home runs in each of them, but kept the Rangers in the game long enough for them to win it.

"You've got to tip your hat to Derek," Washignton said. "Derek's problem has been one inning where things get out of control. I think that one inning tonight was the first. After he gave up the home run, he got out of the inning and he controlled the rest of the ballgame -- the key when you're facing a guy like Verlander."

After Alexi Ogando and Robbie Ross issued back-to-back walks to Miguel Cabrera and Prince Fielder in the ninth inning, Mike Adams shut the door. Delmon Young, who had a 1-0 count before Adams (2-3) replaced Ross on the mound, singled to load the bases. But Moreland forced Cabrera out at home on a Brennan Boesch grounder before Josh Hamilton tracked down a Jhonny Peralta fly ball to end the inning.

"Thank God for Mike Adams," Washington said. "He rose to the occasion and he showed what type of fight we have. He did one heck of a job."

"The situation I came into was a little bit different, a little bit crazy," Adams said. "That's part of the job description. You're going to put in some situations and I've gone through it the past few years. This year it's probably happened to me more than in the past, but I've taken those situations and built on every single one. Those situations make you a better pitcher."

Verlander, who struck out 14 while tossing eight innings in a win over the Yankees in his last start, held the Rangers to one run on seven hits in seven innings on Saturday night, striking out eight without issuing a walk. He gave up three singles in a four-pitch stretch during the third inning to Hamilton, Adrian Beltre and Cruz, who brought Hamilton home with a liner to left.

Christian Corona is an associate reporter for
Read More: Texas Rangers, Mike Adams, Mike Olt, Derek Holland