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No rust for Holland in strong return to mound

ARLINGTON -- Derek Holland is back, even if he forgot to acknowledge the standing ovation accorded him at Globe Life Park in the seventh inning on Wednesday afternoon.

"Yeah, that was awesome, the fans were awesome," Holland said after allowing two runs in 6 1/3 innings in a 7-2 victory over the Mariners. "I was just mad at myself for not staying out there longer."

Holland was out there long enough to make a triumphant return to the Rangers' rotation after being sidelined since April 10 with a strained muscle in his left shoulder, but there was no evidence of his prolonged absence on Wednesday.

Holland stepped into the middle of a pennant race and helped pitch the Rangers to their 12th win in the last 16 games.

"It gets me going again," Holland said. "I was happy to be out there. I was pushing to get back and they gave me the opportunity so I wanted to back up my words. I thought I did a good job of that today."

Video: [email protected]: Holland discusses return, gets drenched

Holland allowed eight hits, did not walk a batter and struck out six. He started the day by retiring the side in order in the first and was rewarded with three runs from his offense in the bottom of the inning. He ended the day with one out and one on in the seventh, having thrown 93 pitches while leaving with a 3-2 lead.

"He was aggressive in the strike zone with his all his pitches," manager Jeff Banister said. "His fastball showed early. The first inning, it took him a while to find the range with his breaking ball, but once he did that, he was getting swing and misses. The number of swing and misses was pretty impressive for a guy who hasn't pitched here in quite a while. The confidence and the focus were at a high premium."

Holland did not give up a run until Mark Trumbo's one-out home run made it 3-1 in the fifth. His pivotal moment came in the sixth, when singles by Kyle Seager, Nelson Cruz and Robinson Cano loaded the bases with nobody out.

Holland was in danger of letting his good work go to waste, but he did a great job of limiting the damage. He was able to get Franklin Gutierrez to hit a double-play grounder to short that scored one run, then got Austin Jackson on a grounder to third.

"That was huge," Holland said. "Sometimes you have to give up one run to get out of something. I was very relaxed out there. I didn't let anything get ahead of me like in that situation. I stayed composed and made pitches when I needed to."

Holland had waited a long time for this.

"We're in a race and these guys have pitched their tails off," Holland said. "I haven't been able to help out so I'm glad I was able to contribute."

T.R. Sullivan is a reporter for Read his blog, Postcards from Elysian Fields, follow him on Twitter @Sullivan_Ranger and listen to his podcast.
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