Derek Holland halted a career-long span of frustration against the New York Yankees a month ago.
The outing sparked a solid run for the Texas Rangers left-hander, who tries to defeat the Yankees again on Thursday afternoon in the finale of a four-game set.
Holland went into a June 27 encounter in the Bronx having gone 0-5 with an 8.85 earned run average in eight previous games versus the Yankees, including seven starts. But the hurler was able to buck the trend in a 2-0 victory, tossing a two-hit shutout that was his first of the season and sixth of his career.
"I haven't had much success against these guys. So, you think positive thoughts. You can't let any negativity creep in," Holland said after beating the Yankees.
The victory was the first of three straight for Holland over a span of four starts before he fell into the loss column on Friday versus Baltimore despite a quality start. The 26-year-old allowed three runs on six hits and two walks over eight frames of a 3-1 decision.
Holland, who struck out six and has fanned 37 over his past five outings, fell to 8-5 with a 3.10 ERA in 20 starts this year.
Hoping to avoid a series loss, the Yankees turn to their most successful starter this season in Hiroki Kuroda, who stands at 9-6 with a 2.65 ERA through 20 outings this year.
A winner of two straight starts, the 38-year-old righty has yielded two earned runs or fewer in six of his past seven outings, logging a 2.33 ERA over that span. Kuroda followed up back-to-back scoreless outings with a win at Boston on Saturday, charged with two runs and five hits over seven innings with a walk.
"He had everything today," said Yankees manager Joe Girardi. "His stuff was really crisp. He kept his pitch count down in the early innings. His stuff was really sharp."
Kuroda is 1-2 with a 2.60 ERA in four career meetings with the Rangers and did not get a decision against them on June 25 after giving up three runs -- two earned -- over 6 2/3 innings. He struck out six, but yielded a pair of solo homers.
Pitching has been the highlight of this series for the Rangers, who saw starters Yu Darvish and Alexi Ogando return from the disabled list in the first two games before debuting hurler Matt Garza in last night's 3-1 win.
Garza was acquired from the Chicago Cubs on Monday and allowed just one unearned run over 7 1/3 innings to win his sixth straight decision.
"It's awesome. I enjoy it," Garza said. "I just want to get us to October."
Joe Nathan rebounded from allowing a pair of runs in Tuesday's setback to record the final out of the game and secure his 32nd save.
A.J. Pierzynski hit a tie-breaking homer in the sixth inning and David Murphy had a solo shot in the eighth for the Rangers, who had lost seven of eight before taking two of the first three in this set. They are three games out of first place in the AL West.
Brett Gardner and Robinson Cano each registered two of New York's six hits, with Cano knocking in the Yankees' lone run in their sixth loss in eight games.
Andy Pettitte allowed two runs on eight hits over six-plus frames to absorb the loss.
"I felt decent, felt pretty good about all my pitches. Garza was tough," Pettitte said.
The Rangers took two of three from the Yankees in the Bronx back in June.