Rangers celebrate return home

ARLINGTON, Texas — Pitcher Derek Holland and the American League West-leading Texas Rangers quickly settled back in at home.

After playing 17 out of 20 games on the road, the Rangers got a pair of RBI singles from former Mariners infielder Adrian Beltre and Josh Hamilton’s two-run triple off the wall in the first three innings. Holland pitched into the eighth as Texas posted an 8-3 victory over the Houston Astros in the Lone Star Series opener Monday night.

“My offense is still doing the same thing they always do,” Holland said after winning at home for the first time in nearly two months. “For me, just better execution.”

Texas extended its lead in the AL West to one game over the idle Seattle Mariners.

The Rangers, who scored more than six runs only once on their just-completed 3-7 trip, had a 7-0 lead after three innings against Houston and J.A. Happ (3-9).

“We were able to relax a little bit,” Rangers manager Ron Washington said. “We did a good job against Happ, not chasing too many of his off-speed pitches. When we got pitches to hit, we didn’t try to do too much with it.”

Texas’ Mitch Moreland had a leadoff homer in the eighth, a towering shot estimated at 455 feet that landed halfway up in the second deck of seats in right field.

Holland (6-2) allowed three runs and six hits with four strikeouts over 7 innings for his first win at Rangers Ballpark since beating Kansas City on April 22. The left-hander had since made four starts at home without a decision.

Since a five-hit shutout June 4 at Cleveland, Holland had allowed 10 runs over 12 innings in two starts, both on the road.

The Astros (27-47) dropped to 20 games under .500, their lowest point since September 2007.