Jeremy Guthrie knew it was going to be a struggle.
Not only was the Baltimore Orioles right-hander recovering from a high fever that forced him to spend two nights in the hospital, but he was facing the high-powered Texas Rangers.
Despite getting a gritty, effective performance from their ace, the Orioles lost 3-0 Sunday.
Guthrie (1-1) allowed one run, four hits and a walk in six innings. The only damaging hit the right-hander permitted was a fourth-inning homer to Adrian Beltre.
"A couple of times I tried to reach back and I didn't have it," Guthrie said. "The Beltre pitch is one specifically that I tried to throw, tried to give a little bit more and it didn't have much on it. It caught a ton of the plate. I didn't get away with that pitch."
Still, it was a courageous outing, one Guthrie will look back on with pride.
"You face a team with those type of hitters, it doesn't matter if you feel unbelievable or you've been in the hospital with pneumonia, you feel real pleased to get out of that game with a few hits and one run allowed," he said.
Guthrie left after six innings and 84 pitches.
"He gave us everything he had," manager Buck Showalter said. "He just ran out of gas at the end."
Derek Holland allowed five hits over six innings for the Rangers, who improved to a major league-best 8-1 by capturing their third straight series.
Holland (2-0) struck out six, walked two and hit a batter with a pitch. The left-hander had only one perfect inning, but he never failed to get the outs he needed.
Texas starters are 7-1 with a 2.54 ERA this season.
"They've done a great job," manager Ron Washington said. "They have been able to get in there and be in some situations that's tough and be able to pitch out of them. That's what pitching is all about."
Neftali Feliz, the third Texas reliever, got four outs for his third save.
The Rangers took two of three from Baltimore and have matched the best start in franchise history (1989). The only other seasons in which Texas opened with more than two successive series wins were 1989 (five straight) and 1993 (four).
This series was marked by solid pitching performances on both sides.
"They pitched well, we pitched well," Holland said. "We made the plays when we needed to and made pitches when we really needed to. We got a few hits here and there, and they got us some runs. That's the main thing."
Beltre put Texas up 1-0 in the fourth and Ian Kinsler homered with a man on in the seventh off Jim Johnson. Before his two-out hit, Kinsler was 0 for 8 this season with runners in scoring position.
There will be games in which the Rangers need more than three runs. In this one, the hitting was good enough to complement solid pitching.
"We like to believe we're a well-rounded team and can do whatever it takes to win," Kinsler said.
Both pitchers worked their way out of early jams.
In the first inning, Baltimore had two on with two outs before Holland struck out Mark Reynolds, who came in with a .714 batting average with runners in scoring position.
Two innings later, Reynolds stranded runners at second and third.
Texas had two on in the third when Josh Hamilton hit a liner to right that Nick Markakis caught on the run near the wall.
"The biggest play of the game was Nick's play on the Hamilton ball, caught at the wall," Guthrie said. "That was the biggest out for me in my outing."
Beltre hit his second homer in two games in the fourth. The drive came one pitch after he ripped a liner into the seats outside of the left-field foul pole.
In the Baltimore fifth, Markakis hit a two-out single and went to third on a double by Derrek Lee. Vladimir Guerrero followed with a routine fly to right.
NOTES: In his only other start against Baltimore, Holland lost 7-0 to Guthrie in 2009. ... Markakis has reached safely in all nine games. ... Baltimore's first two pinch hitters of the season went 1 for 2. Luke Scott flied out with two on and two outs in the eighth, and Felix Pie singled in the ninth. ... Hamilton has hit in six straight games and eight of nine.