ST. LOUIS (AP) — Three runs down with none out in the first, Derek Holland and the Texas Rangers were in trouble. The lefty participated in the comeback by keeping the bat on his shoulder, and he found his stride on the mound, too.
Holland coaxed a two-out walk off Tyler Lyons to fuel a four-run second-inning rally that put the Rangers back in business, and the Rangers went on to beat the St. Louis Cardinals 6-4 on Friday night.
"Some of the guys were giving me a hard time with me and my swing," said Holland, who's 0 for 5 at the plate this season but with a pair of walks. "The main thing is to go out there and try to see as many pitches as you possibly can, and try to get his pitch count up.
"Lucky for me, I got the walk," he added.
Nelson Cruz snapped a ninth-inning tie with a two-run single through a drawn-in infield in the opener of a series between 2011 World Series opponents.
Neal Cotts (4-1) escaped a bases-loaded jam in the eighth when Jon Jay tapped out on a full-count pitch and Joe Nathan finished for his 23rd save in 24 chances. All of Cotts' decisions have come this month.
Left fielder David Murphy robbed Carlos Beltran of an extra-base hit and saved a run with a running catch at the wall in left-center to end it.
Allen Craig had two hits and two RBIs, plus he made a handful of outstanding plays at first base for the Cardinals. Joe Kelly worked five scoreless innings after Lyons was yanked in the second.
The opener of the three-game series drew a sellout of 45,228 to Busch Stadium, where the Cardinals closed out the '11 Series with wild wins in Games 6 and 7.
"For me it's just a game on our schedule and you have to play it," Rangers leadoff man Ian Kinsler said. "Obviously, there are memories of the stadium and memories of the field and stuff like that, but this is a different year and we're trying to win a series and continue to play good baseball."
This game had some of the drama that made that series one of the best in recent memory.
Rookie Trevor Rosenthal (1-1) struck out two in a perfect eighth but gave up two hits, botched a sacrifice attempt for an error and threw a wild pitch to the backstop in the ninth.
"It just kind of snowballed on him a little bit," manager Mike Matheny said. "He had trouble getting it in the zone and when he brought it back in he was already in favorable counts for the hitters."