Count on Cole: Ace steps up his game

Lefty will be counted upon with rotation beset by injuries

Count on Cole: Ace steps up his game

ARLINGTON -- Rangers starter Cole Hamels steered the rotation back in the right direction on Wednesday night. That may become an increasingly important job for him in the potentially turbulent weeks ahead.

Hamels held the Reds to one run in six innings and the Rangers held on for a 6-4 victory at Globe Life Park. Hamels allowed five hits and two walks while striking out eight, raising his record to 8-1 with a 2.79 ERA.

The performance came after Rangers starters had gone 0-1 with a 7.58 ERA in just 19 innings in their four previous games. That's hardly cause for concern, but the club also found out Wednesday that Derek Holland was going on the disabled list with inflammation in his left shoulder and Colby Lewis could be down for two months with a strained lat muscle in the back of his right shoulder.

With Yu Darvish still on the disabled list, the Rangers need Hamels more than ever to hold up his end at the top of the rotation.

"Obviously it's nice that Cole gave us the start that he did," Rangers manager Jeff Banister said. "We have been in this situation before. News like that is something you never want to [hear], but we've still got to go out and play. These guys understand that."

Right now, Hamels and Martin Perez are the only two left standing from the season-opening rotation, although A.J. Griffin is coming off the disabled list on Saturday.

"We are a pretty close clubhouse, we know what's going on," Hamels said. "We understand, we believe in each other and support each other in good times and bad. We're going to make the best out of any situation. It is what it is."

Hamels has won three straight starts and is 3-0 with a 1.82 ERA in his last five starts. He appears to be getting back to the top of his game when the Rangers need him most.

"Every time I go out there -- I get 35-40 [starts] a year -- this is what I train for," Hamels said. "To be able to go out there and win a game for my team. It's about getting the W. Do that and I can work toward the next start and build from there. No matter what happens in the clubhouse, that's what I am here to do."

Banister said Hamels has been getting progressively better as the season has progressed.

"I know in the game tonight we didn't have a 1-2-3 inning by any of our pitchers," Banister said. "But Cole still had good stuff and a lot of soft contact. If you ask Cole, it's not where he wants to be, but it's getting there."

The Rangers are really going to need it.

T.R. Sullivan is a reporter for MLB.com. Read his blog, Postcards from Elysian Fields, 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.