BY: Richard W. Humphrey

Houston arrived in Arlington having lost nine games in a row and more than 100 for the season. On Monday night, they proved to be the solution the Rangers’ needed for an impotent offense. Texas beat the Astros 12-0 as Derek Holland threw his second complete game shutout of the year, and Alex Rios became the seventh Ranger in franchise history to hit for the cycle. Texas now leads the season series with Houston 15 wins to two, with games remaining Tuesday and Wednesday nights.

Holland’s record improved to 10-9 for the season with the win, his first since August 4, his second since the All-Star break, and his first in Arlington since May. He completed the game with 113 pitches, an efficient 12.6 per inning. He was so efficient in fact, the time of the game was only 2:39. He allowed six hits, striking out nine and walking one. The shutout lowered his ERA to 3.33. Holland now has seven career shutouts, the most in Ranger history by a left-handed pitcher.

Rios’ cycle and four RBIs was the offensive story. He drove home a pair of runs in the first inning with a double, then scratched out an infield single leading off the third inning. Texas plated four that inning, to essentially put the game away, as they moved a 3-0 lead to 7-0. Rios hit a solo home run in the fourth inning, and completed the cycle with the triple that also drove in a run in the sixth inning. The most recent Ranger cycle before Monday night was Adrian Beltre’s last season against the Twins on August 24.

Elvis Andrus with three hits, and Ian Kinsler and A. J. Pierzynski with two each also had multi-hit games as Texas mounted a 14 hit attack on the Astros.

The win brought the Rangers to within a game of idle Cleveland for the second Wild Card playoff berth. Wild Card leader Tampa Bay strengthened their hold on the top spot to a full game over the Indians with a 5-4 come from behind win over Baltimore. After the Rangers, Kansas City trails Cleveland by three games, the Yankees by four and Baltimore by five.

The Wild Card race then is essentially a three team race. In the event there is a tie for the second Wild Card berth, there will be a one game playoff to decide which team goes. If those two teams are Texas and Tampa Bay, the game will be played in Arlington. If the tie is between Texas and Cleveland, the Tribe will host the Rangers.

Yu Darvish (13-9) faces Brad Peacock (5-5) as the series continues Tuesday night.

Follow on Twitter @rangerrap.

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