ARLINGTON, Texas -- Derek Holland went 4-0 in May and the Texas Rangers were 6-0 in his starts.
Sounds like a staff ace. Well, on most teams.
"He certainly pitched well," Texas manager Ron Washington said after Friday night's 7-2 victory over the sleep-deprived Kansas City Royals at Rangers Ballpark. "He was outstanding again tonight. He used his fastball really well, his changeup and slider, and mostly stayed off the fat part of the plate.
"If Yu Darvish wasn't on the staff right now, I guess you could say Derek would be our ace."
Nelson Cruz backed Holland with a three-run homer, as the Rangers (34-20) won their second straight game after a three-game skid. The weary Royals ended a long Friday with a 1-1 record and a long month at 8-20.
"Best way to describe it is I'm glad that it's over," Royals manager Ned Yost said of May.
Kansas City (22-30) finished off a 4-2 win at St. Louis that concluded at 3:14 a.m. Friday thanks to two rain delays, the second lasting nearly five hours. The Royals' team plane landed in Texas as the sun came up.
Yost refused to pin the loss on fatigue. The Royals have scuffled all month, dropping nine of their last 10 and 13 of 15. Kansas City has only scored 22 runs in the last 10 games.
Holland improved to 5-2 for Texas, getting stronger as the game wore on. The lefty struck out eight, allowing two runs (one earned) on 104 pitches. Holland hoped to continue past the seventh, but respected Washington's decision to turn to the bullpen.
"You always want to go out there and go the distance," said Holland, who lowered his ERA to 2.81. "My goal is to be the starter and the closer."
After zipping through the first two innings, Holland ran into some trouble in the third. Adam Moore led off the inning with a double over Cruz in right field and Chris Getz legged out an infield single.
With one out, Alcides Escobar lined a single up the middle to score Moore for a 1-0 lead. With runners on second and third, Holland limited the damage to one run with two groundouts.
"That's part of the reason we've been struggling," Yost said. "We've got second and third and one out, and we couldn't score another run. That's the way things have been going."
The Rangers mounted a two-out rally in the bottom of the third to go up 4-1, with Cruz delivering the big blow off Royals starter Wade Davis. David Murphy and Lance Berkman reached on back-to-back infield hits before Adrian Beltre drilled an RBI single to center to tie the game. Cruz followed with a three-run homer to left estimated at 419 feet.
After the Royals scored once in the sixth, Texas again answered in the bottom of the frame. Leonys Martin doubled with the bases loaded to push the Rangers' lead to 6-2.
A.J. Pierzynski narrowly missed out on a homer earlier in the inning with a drive to center that hit the top of the wall. Pierzynski motioned that the ball went out and Washington came out to ask for clarification, leading to the first review in Arlington this season. Umpires upheld their original call after viewing replays.
Beltre finished off Texas' scoring and a 4-for-4 night with his 11th home run in the seventh, a solo shot to left off one knee. Beltre's fourth game with at least four hits this season is tied with Miguel Cabrera for the major-league lead.
Davis dropped to 3-5 after giving up six runs on 10 hits in five innings.
NOTES: The Rangers have been in sole possession of first place in the AL West for 40 straight days. Prior to Thursday, Texas had lost ground in the division for four straight days. ... Before Jeff Francoeur's home run in the ninth inning Thursday night, the Royals had gone 59 innings without a long ball. That was Kansas City's longest dry spell since a 65-inning drought in 2011. ... Former Tampa Bay pitchers James Shields and Davis, the Royals' first two starters in the three-game series, combined to start three of the nine games between Texas and the Rays in the 2010 and 2011 ALDS. ... The Rangers and Royals share a spring training complex in Surprise, Ariz.