Derek Holland goes after his fifth consecutive winning decision on Thursday when the Texas Rangers close out a three-game series against the Boston Red Sox at Fenway Park.
Holland took advantage of the woeful Kansas City Royals on Friday, holding them to an earned run and eight hits in seven innings. He also struck out eight and improved to 5-2 on the year, while lowering his ERA to 2.81.
It capped a terrific May for Holland, who was 4-0 with a 2.31 ERA in six starts over the course of the month. The Rangers also won all six of those starts.
"I'm just attacking the zone and going after hitters," Holland said. "My big pet peeve is not walking hitters and keeping my defense on their toes so they can make plays. I felt like I did a good job of attacking the zone all night."
Holland tossed eight scoreless innings to beat the Red Sox earlier in the season and is 5-1 lifetime against them with a 2.41 ERA in six starts.
Boston, meanwhile, will counter with lefty Jon Lester, who has lost his last two decisions after starting the year 6-0. Lester lost to the New York Yankees on Friday and was hit for four runs and six hits with four walks in 6 1/3 frames to raise his ERA to 3.53.
"Just bad pitches -- behind in the count, not commanding the baseball, the list goes on," said Lester. "It just wasn't a good night for me. It's another one of those grinders. The biggest thing was to just try to get as deep in the game as I could and try to save the bullpen. It wasn't good for me with really anything tonight."
Lester has faced the Rangers 11 times and is 3-3 against them with a 4.57 ERA.
Texas evened this series on Wednesday, as Elvis Andrus hit the tie-breaking two-run double in the seventh inning to help the Rangers eke out a 3-2 win.
Activated off the 15-day disabled list prior to the game, Alexi Ogando pitched 5 2/3 innings in the start for the Rangers. Ogando, who had been sidelined since May 16 with right biceps tendinitis, allowed three hits, a run, walked three and had six strikeouts.
Despite walking three batters, Neal Cotts (1-0) fanned Jarrod Saltalamacchia for the final out of the sixth inning to get the win and Joe Nathan retired the side in order on three ground balls in the ninth to get his 18th save.
John Lackey gave up five hits and fanned five over six frames for the Red Sox, who had their three-game winning streak broken. The AL East leaders scored 17 runs on 19 hits Tuesday, but a night later were limited to just five hits.
"The fastball command was pretty good tonight," Lackey said. "It's been a lot of hard work and I've come a long way. I'll take giving up one run the rest of the way."
Texas has won 12 of the last 16 overall meetings and 11 of 15 at Fenway Park.