BALTIMORE — There's no mystery why the Texas Rangers have the best record in the major leagues.
The Rangers have combined solid starting pitching with a bash-happy offense, qualities that were on full display Sunday in a 3-0 victory over the Baltimore Orioles.
Derek Holland allowed five hits over six innings, Adrian Beltre and Ian Kinsler homered, and the Rangers improved to 8-1 by capturing their third straight series.
Whether it be a pitching duel or a slugfest, the defending AL champions have what it takes to win.
"We can play whatever the game asks us to play. That's what we play," manager Ron Washington said. "We do have guys up and down the lineup that can punch the ball out of the ballpark. It happened today and it worked for us. Kinsler and Beltre got them, and that's all the runs we needed."
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," 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 hit a solo homer off Jeremy Guthrie (1-1) in the fourth and Kinsler connected 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.
Guthrie was pitching for the first time since opening day. After missing a start because of a high fever, the right-hander was exceptionally sharp in his return — except for the pitch that Beltre deposited in the left-field seats.
"He gave us everything he had," manager Buck Showalter said. "He just ran out of gas at the end."
Guthrie allowed one run, four hits and a walk in six innings, but it wasn't enough to prevent the Orioles (6-3) from absorbing their first series loss of the year.
"It was a battle the whole the entire time, just fighting and trying to make better pitches," Guthrie said. "I didn't always do that."
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.Comment on this story
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.