STEPHEN HAWKINS, AP Sports Writer
ARLINGTON, Texas (AP) — Derek Holland noticed how quiet it suddenly got after the final pitch of his eighth career shutout for the Texas Rangers
Everyone was briefly distracted as Baltimore slugger Chris Davis’ bat helicoptered toward the right-field line after a big swing-and-miss, an appropriate ending for the slumping Orioles.
“They were watching the bat, and I was like, (catcher Chris Gimenez) has the ball right now, why isn’t everybody getting excited?” Holland said with a grin after his 6-0 victory Sunday polished off a three-game sweep.
Once Davis’ bat settled to the ground without doing any harm, there were finally loud cheers to mark Holland’s three-hitter. The left-hander matched a career high with 11 strikeouts in his third start since coming off the disabled list.
Holland (2-1), who walked none and hit a batter with a pitch, struck out each of the Orioles’ nine starters at least once — getting Adam Jones and Davis twice. The last of his 116 pitches was a slider past Davis.
“Nobody really knew. I felt bad for him. I told him it’s kind of anticlimactic. For it to end like that, and I’m the only one back there going crazy,” Gimenez said. “For him, too, it’s just big, just knowing that he’s back, he’s fully capable of going out and doing that. He just proved it to everybody today.”
At 68-61, the Rangers are seven games over .500 for the first time since the end of the 2013 season. Their 68 wins are already one more than all of last year — and they still have 33 regular-season games to play.
The Orioles have lost 10 of 11, falling 5 1/2 games behind the Rangers in the AL wild-card chase.
“(Holland) was good. He’s been good for quite a while. He’s certainly got his health back,” Baltimore manager Buck Showalter said. “It bodes well for them and bad for us.”
After missing most of 2014 following left knee surgery, Holland went back on the DL after only one inning in the home opener April 10 when he strained his left shoulder. His previous shutout was Sept. 23, 2013, against Houston.
“I executed all my pitches, the defense was making some outstanding plays behind me, and the offense put up the runs,” Holland said. “I’m just glad to get back and get a complete game.”
Miguel Gonzalez (9-11) gave up four runs in 5 1-3 innings. The right-hander is 0-5 in his last seven starts, allowing 29 earned runs over 35 innings (7.46 ERA).
“We all know that this game isn’t easy,” he said. “Mentally, you’ve got to be tough and not think about what’s going on. … But you’ve got to keep making pitches.”
It was the Rangers‘ seventh shutout this season, and Baltimore was held scoreless for the ninth time.
Texas had three consecutive singles to start the first before Adrian Beltre’s sacrifice fly made it 1-0. Shin-Soo Choo, whose single marked his 34th consecutive start since the All-Star break reaching safely, then scored on a wild pitch.
Beltre had a two-out double in the third, scoring when Elvis Andrus hit a single. Andrus led off the sixth with a bunt single and scored on Hanser Alberto’s single.
POSITIVE TRENDS IN TEXAS
Texas finished with its best record against the Orioles, going 6-1 this season. … The Rangers have won their last six series finales, and nine of 10. … They have won six consecutive day games, and nine of 11, moving to 19-18 in such games.
Orioles: RHP Chaz Roe, on the disabled list since Aug. 10 with right shoulder tendinitis, is scheduled to throw an inning Monday for Double-A Bowie and could rejoin the Orioles later in the week.
Rangers: C Carlos Corporan (left thumb strain) will travel with the team for its trip to San Diego, and likely will be activated Tuesday when rosters can expand to 40. He hasn’t played since July 12. … C Robinson Chirinos (left shoulder strain), out since July 30, is expected to take batting practice Monday with Double-A Round Rock, and could begin a rehab assignment Tuesday.
Orioles: After a 1-6 trip, the Orioles are home Monday night to start a three-game series against Tampa Bay that will end a stretch of 20 games in 20 days. Then they hit the road again for six more games.
Rangers: Colby Lewis goes for his career-best 15th win when the Rangers play Monday night in San Diego, the start of an 11-day, 10-game road trip that is their longest of the season.