ANAHEIM, Calif. (AP) —No matter what pitch Taylor Teagarden called, Derek Holland executed it precisely. Through the first five hitless innings to the last 1-2-3 frame, the rookie catcher and his rookie left-hander were perfectly poised while shutting out the majors' highest-scoring team.
The Texas Rangers claimed they weren't even the least bit shocked by Sunday's seasoned effort from two remarkable youngsters in a 7-0 victory over the Angels.
They're also not surprised to be just 3½ games behind Los Angeles in the AL West race after winning yet another head-to-head series with the two-time division champs.
Holland didn't allow a runner to reach second base during his three-hitter, and Teagarden hit a late two-run homer to accent what manager Ron Washington called a masterful job behind the plate. The 22-year-old Holland (5-7) didn't allow a hit until the sixth inning of his 12th career start, yet he gave the credit to his fellow rookie.
"We were on the same page from the start," Holland said of Teagarden. "The whole team wanted to win this series. We showed we're not backing down, and we're ready to go. I feel like we're always neck-and-neck (with Los Angeles)."
Texas took two of three from the Angels, keeping Los Angeles' lead at a thoroughly manageable size with eight weeks left in the regular season. The Rangers have won nine of 12 games and five straight series against Los Angeles, with two series still to play this season.
"We wanted to win this series, and we got it done," Washington said. "That's not easy to do against that team. They're a pretty good team. I think we are, too. In fact, I know we are."
Marlon Byrd homered and drove in three runs for the Rangers, who scored their first two runs when Bobby Abreu dropped a two-out fly to right field in the fourth. Byrd's surge at the plate, which includes an 11-game hitting streak, is less impressive to him than Holland's recent work.
"Everybody could tell he had good stuff, and he located every single pitch," Byrd said. "He's figuring it out. He's got good stuff, and he's only getting better. We knew he would be good, but to be this good, this early, it's exciting."
The Angels began the day tied with the New York Yankees with a majors-leading 614 runs while leading the big leagues in hits and batting average, yet Holland needed just 96 pitches against a series of overeager hitters. The Angels drew just one walk.
"It seemed like he was ahead of every hitter," said Teagarden, who homered in both of the Rangers' wins in Anaheim. "He just got them in counts where they couldn't do too much."
While the Angels hacked away, the Rangers effectively wore out Angels ace John Lackey (7-5) with patient hitting. Lackey left in the seventh after a career-high 131 pitches, yielding eight hits and two earned runs in his first defeat since July 7.
Holland has shuttled between the rotation and the bullpen during nearly four months in the majors, and the left-hander failed to get out of the fifth inning in three of his previous four starts. But 10 days after limiting Seattle to two hits over 8 2-3 innings, he lowered his ERA from 5.60 to 5.04.
Holland issued a one-out walk to Gary Matthews Jr. in the third, but otherwise allowed the free-swinging Angels to make it awfully easy for him. Holland didn't throw his 50th pitch until the sixth inning, when Maicer Izturis finally connected for a two-out single.
Vladimir Guerrero added a single in the seventh, but Holland struck out the other three batters he faced in the inning.
"He's got good stuff," said catcher Jeff Mathis, who made two of the Angels' three errors. "He was locating his fastball and getting some early outs. He had us off balance all day."
Neither team managed a hit until Byrd's fourth-inning single. The inning should have ended with Hank Blalock's grounder, but Lackey and Robb Quinlan both failed to cover first base, visibly infuriating Lackey. Esteban German's fly to right then glanced out of Abreu's glove as the veteran outfielder backpedaled.
NOTES: Angels manager Mike Scioscia rested 3B Chone Figgins, his leadoff hitter and the AL runs leader. The All-Star is hitless in his last 16 at-bats. ... Texas DH Julio Borbon, making his second major league start, struck out three times before getting his second major league hit in the seventh. He then stole his first base even when the Angels pitched out, sliding under Mathis' high throw. ... Holland is the first Rangers rookie with a shutout featuring three hits or fewer since Edwin Correa on May 2, 1986.
Copyright 2009 The Associated Press.
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