The Kansas City Royals are still clinging to the AL Central lead after holding on to beat baseball's worst team.
The Royals (75-61) had dropped three straight and five of seven before winning 4-3 in Monday's opener. Salvador Perez went 3 for 4 with a homer and three RBIs and Yordano Ventura pitched into the seventh inning. Greg Holland came on to record his major league best-tying 41st save, striking out two in his third consecutive day of work.
"It's kind of a double-edged sword for me," Holland said. "We're in a playoff race and you never know when you're going to get another chance to go to the playoffs. Kansas City hasn't been there in a while."
Kansas City remains one-half game ahead of Detroit for the division lead. The Royals, 3-1 against Texas this season, haven't finished with a winning record in the series since going 5-4 in 2007.
The Rangers (53-84) have hit .156 and scored five runs during a three-game losing streak. Alex Rios, hitting .161 over a 25-game stretch, is 3 for his last 30 against Kansas City. Leonys Martin has also struggled against the Royals, going 4 for his last 26.
Holland is finally set to make his season debut for Texas after working his way back from offseason knee surgery. He went 2-1 with a 4.43 ERA over six rehab starts in the minors.
"It has been a long process … longer than expected," Holland told MLB's official website. "If we were in the pennant race, I would have been back sooner, but I can't dictate that. My job now is to compete and show them what I can do. I know the season has been frustrating, it has been frustrating for me too. I just want to be a part of it.
"Being with the team, it's like being called up again. I'll probably be excited but I know how to calm myself down."
Holland allowed both runs over seven innings in a 7-2 win over Kansas City last May, improving to 2-0 with a 4.18 ERA over a four-start stretch in the series.
The Royals counter with Jeremy Guthrie (10-10, 4.43 ERA), who's gone 5-1 with a 4.08 ERA in his last seven outings while receiving an average of 6.8 runs of support. He was tagged for five runs and nine hits over six innings in Thursday's 11-5, 10-inning home loss to Minnesota.
The right-hander has recently been hit hard at Kauffman Stadium. Opponents are batting .398 against him over a five-start stretch there, during which he's gone 1-2 with an 8.33 ERA.
Guthrie threw eight innings of one-run ball to win 6-3 at Texas on Aug. 23. He's posted a 3.00 ERA in splitting his last four decisions against the Rangers.
Elvis Andrus has had Guthrie's number, going 7 for 13 with a homer and two doubles since 2011. Adrian Beltre is 6 for his last 16 with a homer in their matchups.
Beltre is batting .429 with nine extra-base hits - four homers - and 12 RBIs during an 18-game hitting streak against Kansas City.
His .374 career average at Kauffman Stadium is the highest for an opposing hitter with a minimum of 150 plate-appearances since the stadium opened in 1973.