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DET@TEX: Holland tosses 7 2/3 innings, fanning nine

NEW YORK -- Derek Holland broke a string of disappointing starts in his last outing. He's hoping to avoid starting another skid in Thursday's series finale against the Yankees.

After going 1-2 with a 7.00 ERA in his previous four starts, Holland went toe-to-toe with Justin Verlander on Saturday, holding the Tigers to one run on three hits, one of them a leadoff homer by Austin Jackson, over 7 2/3 innings. Like Verlander, Holland got a no-decision, but the Rangers won, 2-1, on Mike Olt's walk-off single in the ninth.

"For me, it was definitely hope," Holland said. "I just kept plugging away, pitch by pitch. Going up against Verlander, I knew I had to go out and make pitches."

Holland will try to help the Rangers salvage the finale of this four-game series against the Yankees, who have regained the best record in the American League by winning the first three games of the set. The Yankees, who dropped two of three to the Rangers at Texas in April, have clinched a tiebreaker in a potential playoff series between the teams.

Holland has given up 22 homers this year, the seventh most in the AL, including 10 in his last five starts.

"He misses his spot," Rangers manager Ron Washington said. "He's throwing the ball down the middle of the plate. I've seen changeups leave the ballpark. I've seen fastballs leave the ballpark. Am I missing any of his pitches? In certain counts, he's trying to get the ball in a certain area, and he's missing."

Like Holland, Ivan Nova overcame a troubling stretch with a strong outing his last time out. The right-hander gave up two runs on five hits over 7 1/3 innings, striking out 10 and walking one in the Yankees' 5-2 victory over the Blue Jays on Saturday. It was Nova's second win in his last nine starts, and it marked the fourth time in Nova's career -- third this year -- that he had recorded 10 strikeouts in a game. He was 0-2 with a 13.94 ERA in his previous two starts.

Rangers: Young gets a breather
• Michael Young, who flied out as a pinch-hitter in the seventh inning of Wednesday's 3-2 loss, had started 47 straight games before being left out of the starting lineup. Young, batting .269 with three home runs and 45 RBIs in 112 games this year, singled in his last at-bat of Tuesday's 3-0 loss after going hitless in his 12 previous at-bats.

"I felt like it was time he got [a break]," Washington said. "You can't play this game for a long time and not have a year where things don't go well. Babe Ruth had down years; Mickey Mantle had down years. Everybody has down years."

Olt started at first and batted ninth on Wednesday, going 0-for-3 with a strikeout.

• Mitch Moreland, who spent more than a month on the disabled list with a strained left hamstring, has started at designated hitter each of the last two nights while nursing a bruised left toe. He went 1-for-2 with a double on Wednesday.

"It happens all the time," Moreland said. "I'm good. I can play."

Yankees: Cano sidelined
• A stiff neck kept Robinson Cano out of Wednesday's game. Jayson Nix replaced Cano at second base and batted ninth, going 2-for-4 and scoring the Yankees' first run on an RBI double by Nick Swisher in the third inning. Nick Swisher played first base, while Mark Teixeira started at DH and Russell Martin caught Freddy Garcia for the first time since the right-hander rejoined the rotation on July 2. Cano leads all second basemen with a .311 batting average, 25 homers and 68 RBIs.

• Alex Rodriguez, who has been on the DL with a fractured left hand since July 25, is expected to undergo further X-rays on Sunday. Once the Yankees have the results, they will have a better idea of when Rodriguez will be able to swing a bat and return to the team. He was batting .276 with 15 home runs and 44 RBIs in 94 games before landing on the DL. Eric Chavez, Casey McGehee and Nix have combined to bat .408 (29-for-71) with seven home runs, 16 RBIs and 17 runs scored in the 20 games Rodriguez has missed.

Worth noting
• On Tuesday, Matt Harrison became the second pitcher in Rangers history to leave a game in a scoreless tie during the seventh inning or later and take the loss. Dick Bosman left the bases loaded for Paul Lindblad, who threw a wild pitch in the ninth inning of a 1-0 loss to the Angels on April 15, 1972. Harrison also became the first Rangers starter this year to take a loss while allowing one or no runs.

• With his 33rd and 34th homers, Josh Hamilton tied Adam Dunn for the Major League lead in home runs on Wednesday and has homered five times in his last seven games.

• On Tuesday, Hiroki Kuroda became the first Yankees pitcher to throw a shutout against the Rangers since David Wells did so in 1998. Kuroda's win was the 52nd of his career, which is second most among Japanese-born pitchers. Hideo Nomo earned 123 Major League victories.

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