SEATTLE -- Rangers pitcher Derek Holland likes to make sure he gives credit to his defense after every victory.
He had reason to be especially effusive in his praise on Tuesday night. His defenders made several terrific plays behind him and the Rangers' run of solid starting pitching continued in an 8-0 victory over the Mariners at Safeco Field.
"The big thing tonight was the defense picked me up," Holland said. "It really came down to the defense. My hat's off to them and what they did tonight."
Holland, pitching 6 2/3 scoreless innings, delivered the Rangers eighth quality start in their first nine games of the season, most in the Majors. Rangers starters are now 5-1 with a 2.95 ERA and opponents are hitting .212 against them.
"Stellar performance by Derek tonight," Rangers manager Jeff Banister said. "He seemed to be in control all night long, held the middle of their order in check, I think 14 of 27 pitches were strikes. Tremendous effort by Derek tonight. ... The off-speed I think was a key for him tonight, both the curve and the slider, a swing and miss pitch for him, and able to move the fastball around where he wanted to."
Holland's outing was the longest by a Rangers starter so far and the first one that was scoreless. He allowed four singles, walked two and struck out four, and none of the singles were hit particularly hard by the Mariners. The balls they did hit hard were run down by the Rangers.
"It's continuing from Spring Training," Desmond said. "When I got here, I was really impressed with how hard everybody was working on defense. That was part of the appeal and we have maintained it. I think the pitchers appreciate it in turn, how quickly they work and keep us on our toes."
Holland certainly likes it.
"I definitely owe them tonight," Holland said. "Mazara made some unbelievable plays, Ian Desmond was terrific, these guys really picked me up on some of the plays I made."
T.R. Sullivan is a reporter for MLB.com. Follow him on Twitter @Sullivan_Ranger and listen to his podcast. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.