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TEX@CHC: Holland shuts out Cubs over seven frames

After three strong starts to begin the year, Rangers left-hander Derek Holland will try to make sure his fourth was only a bump in the road when he takes the mound against the Twins on Saturday afternoon at Target Field.

Holland will square off against fellow lefty Pedro Hernandez as the Rangers attempt to grab a 3-0 lead in the four-game series and win their eighth of their last nine. The streaky Twins are trying to avoid a four-game losing streak, following a five-game winning streak, which itself came on the heels of five consecutive defeats.

Holland lasted at least seven innings and gave up no more than two earned runs in each of his first three outings, but stumbled a bit against the Angels on Monday. He gave up six runs on six hits in 5 2/3 innings and was upset with his four walks.

"I beat myself," Holland said. "That's what I always preach. I beat myself by walking so many guys. That's one of the things I have to fix. I was on the attack. I thought I had great stuff. I felt like I was on top of my game, but I fell behind a couple guys here and there and they took advantage when I had all those walks"

Hernandez has made only one start this season, with all of Minnesota's postponed games eliminating the need for the fifth starter on multiple occasions. The 24-year-old gave up three runs in five innings against the Orioles on April 7, his second career start.

Since then, he has pitched twice out of the bullpen, the last time coming on Tuesday, when he tossed a scoreless inning in the second game of a doubleheader against the Marlins.

Rangers: Serious series success
• Friday's win guaranteed that the Rangers will go undefeated in their first eight series of the season. A victory on Saturday would make them 6-0-2 in series, their best mark since opening 7-0-3 in 1998.

• Utility man Jeff Baker, who has been out of the lineup since Tuesday with a bruised right knee, wasn't quite ready to go on Friday, but could return on Saturday. Baker has made all five of his starts this season against left-handed pitchers.

• After finishing Friday's win, closer Joe Nathan is 4-for-4 in save chances against his former team, with one earned run allowed in seven innings. In his career at Target Field, the ex-Twin is 10-for-10 in save opportunities, with a 3.07 ERA, 34 strikeouts and two walks.

Twins: Bullpen getting the job done
• The Twins' bullpen entered Friday ranked sixth in the Majors with a 2.37 bullpen ERA after finishing 17th with a 3.77 mark in 2012. Six Minnesota relievers have pitched at least four games with an ERA under 3.00.

"Our bullpen has been great," Twins manager Ron Gardenhire said. "We've mixed and matched. But we feel comfortable with any of them in any situation right now getting up to the eighth and ninth inning. We're able to call on just about any of them to get big outs."

• Rookie center fielder Aaron Hicks reached safely in his eighth consecutive game on Friday. He owns a .444 on-base percentage over that span, including eight walks.

Worth noting
• The Rangers are the only Major League team that has not lost consecutive games this season.

• Rangers right fielder Nelson Cruz extended his RBI streak to six games on Friday and has 13 total over that span. That's the longest such streak on the club this season. Comments