SEATTLE -- Rangers pitcher Derek Holland has eight wins against the Mariners, his most against any team, and he still has not given up an earned run in Safeco Field as a starter.
But this victory wasn't against just any Mariners pitcher. This one was against Felix Hernandez, and beating him for the first time on Saturday night was a big deal for Holland.
"I've got to match the opposing pitcher, that's what it comes down to," Holland said. "I think I did a good job of staying with him pitch for pitch and went a little deeper in the game. But that's a great pitcher over there, and I'm still trying to make a name for myself."
Holland allowed only two unearned runs over 6 2/3 innings and the Rangers defeated Hernandez's Mariners, 5-2, on Saturday night at Safeco Field. The former American League Cy Young Award winner has now lost to Texas a record-tying 18 times.
"It doesn't feel like that," said Nelson Cruz, who struck out twice but also hit his fourth career home run off Hernandez. "He usually pitches good and goes deep in the game. It's just one of those things. I guess we've faced him so much that we have a pretty good idea."
David Murphy has faced Hernandez more than any other pitcher in his career, and he helped the Rangers' cause with a two-out, two-run double in the second inning. He also drove in a run with a single off left-handed reliever Oliver Perez in the sixth.
"We're more familiar with Hernandez because he's in our division and we face him more," Murphy said. "But he's still a good pitcher. You're not going to just show up and win. You still have to grind out your at-bats. We did that tonight and found a way to get some big hits."
Murphy is now hitting .328 with eight runs, four home runs and 16 RBIs over his last 19 games after going 2-for-5 on Saturday night.
"You're not going to go 4-for-4 or 5-for-5 every night," Murphy said. "The key is to have as many quality at-bats as possible. Tonight things were clicking a little bit and they've been clicking for the past week or two. Hopefully that will continue."
Hernandez allowed five runs on 11 hits and a walk with nine strikeouts over 5 2/3 innings. He has lost twice to the Rangers this season and is 12-18 with a 3.87 ERA in 38 career starts against them. Former Angel Chuck Finley is the only other pitcher with 18 losses vs. Texas.
"They came out swinging," Hernandez said. "I mean, they put together great at-bats. They put the ball in play and they found holes. I threw good pitches, but they hit them. I definitely liked my stuff."
The 11 hits were the second-most Hernandez has given up in 36 career starts against Texas.
"We worked him pretty good and made him throw pitches," Rangers manager Ron Washington said. "We didn't chase many pitches outside the strike zone, and when he threw the ball in the strike zone, we made enough contact to find some holes."
Holland, who has won all three of his starts at Safeco Field, is now 8-2 with a 3.39 ERA in 10 career starts against the Mariners.
Holland's two runs allowed were unearned because of a third-inning error by shortstop Elvis Andrus. He gave up four hits and three walks while striking out a season-high 10 batters. His 119 pitches were also a season high. Holland, 4-2 with a 2.97 ERA on the season, remains undefeated in May at 3-0 with a 2.53 ERA in five starts -- all Rangers wins.
"I thought he was in control the whole night," Washington said. "He had control of the ballgame. He moved the ball around, kept the fastball out of the middle of the plate, good slider, good changeup, threw some good breaking balls."
Joe Nathan worked a 1-2-3 ninth inning for his 16th save in 16 opportunities, the longest streak of his career to begin a season. Nathan has also saved 31 straight on the road for the Rangers and 36 straight overall on the road going back to his time with the Twins. That's the fifth-longest road save streak since 1969. Eric Gagne holds the record with 64 straight road saves from 2002-07 with the Dodgers and Rangers.
T.R. Sullivan is a reporter for MLB.com. Read his blog, Postcards from Elysian Fields, and follow him on Twitter @Sullivan_Ranger. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.