ATLANTA -- The Rangers are heading back to Texas and will be there for three weeks. It seems like they have been gone for three weeks, but Sunday's game against the Braves will end a stretch of 17 out of 20 games played on the road.

"It seems like it has been a long time since I could remember looking forward to going back to Texas like this," pitcher C.J. Wilson said. "We haven't been there in a while."

Texas plays 16 of its next 19 at home. The only three games on the road will be against the Astros in Houston. The Rangers won't have another three-city road trip until Aug. 12-21, when they go to Oakland, Anaheim and Chicago. That will not be easier either, but 17 out of 20 is still the most road-intensive stretch on the Rangers' schedule.

"It hasn't been tough ... the tough part is what we have done to ourselves," manager Ron Washington said. "Not supplying the offense, not making the pitches when we have to, not getting base hits when we get the opportunity."

The Rangers will at least return home in first place. They were guaranteed of that going into Sunday's game against the Braves.

"We don't look at it like that," Wilson said. "We want to get back to playing our best baseball. We haven't gotten there yet. We have played some good games but other than the Cleveland series [a four-game sweep], we really haven't had a series where we controlled it through the whole way."

Holland knows what's at stake in next start

ATLANTA -- Derek Holland pitches for the Rangers on Monday against the Astros. He realizes what's at stake and knows this is a big start for him.

"I definitely feel it will be and I'm very prepared for this," Holland said Sunday morning. "I've spent some time with [pitching coach Mike Maddux] working on a couple of things. I've forgotten about my start in New York and I'm ready to put it behind me."

Holland allowed six runs in five innings in his last start against the Yankees. The Rangers lost, 12-4, and he is now 5-2 with a 4.78 ERA. He has had some outstanding performances this season -- including a shutout against the Indians -- and some erratic performances.

But what makes this a big start is the Rangers are starting to get pitchers healthy, pitchers like Tommy Hunter, Scott Feldman and Brandon Webb who could be rotation candidates. Holland understands that.

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"Yes, I definitely have to defend my ground," Holland said. "Who knows what might happen? I might go down or I might go to the 'pen. So definitely I have to defend my ground. That's the main thing."

Holland is unlikely to go to the Minor Leagues. He is easily one of the Texas' 12 best pitchers. But he might be the best candidate in the rotation to fit into the bullpen and the Rangers have been actively searching for ways to upgrade their relief corps.

"Either way won't bother me," Holland said. "But I want to be a starting pitcher and I want to hold my ground and pitch well."

Tateyama leads relievers' strikeout parade

ATLANTA -- Rangers relievers struck out nine in 3 2/3 innings Saturday. It's the most strikeouts Texas relievers have had in a game in which they were used for less than four innings.

Yoshinori Tateyama was part of it. He struck out all three batters he faced after taking over for Matt Harrison with one out in the seventh.

"Don't get me wrong, I'm not the type of pitcher who strikes out a lot of batters," Tateyama said.

Tateyama, who signed as a free agent in the offseason, has a 3.86 ERA in 12 appearances for the Rangers. Opponents are hitting .218 off him. He gave up three runs on two home runs in an appearance against the Yankees on Monday, but five of his last six appearances have still been scoreless.

"It's getting better," Tateyama said. "I'm getting more comfortable on the mound and having good communication with the catcher."

Tateyama is one of the Rangers' right-handed relievers, but manager Ron Washington has to be careful with him. Right-handed hitters are batting .172 off him while left-handers are batting .269 with three home runs in 26 at-bats. Tateyama can be effective in the right situations, but he hasn't shown that he can dominate an opposing lineup like Frank Francisco or Alexi Ogando when they were Texas' right-handed setup relievers.

"Right now, he is doing very well," Washington said. "I just hope the game continues to give me the opportunity to use him where he can be successful."

Hamilton's NL hitting streak ends at 24

ATLANTA -- When Rangers outfielder Josh Hamilton went 0-for-4 on Saturday evening, it brought to an end to his 24-game hitting streak in Interleague Play. That was the fourth longest such streak since Interleague Play began in 1997.

Going into Sunday's game against the Braves, Hamilton was hitting .516 (32-62) with five home runs and 18 RBIs in his last 14 games against National League teams.

Hamilton's career .381 batting average in Interleague Play going into Sunday's game was the highest for any player with at least 200 plate appearances.

Worth noting

• David Murphy was in the lineup on Sunday for the first time in three games against the Braves. Manager Ron Washington had a hard time finding a spot for him without a designated hitter and said, "I want to try and get his bat going. He has not been as consistent as we would like but I'd like to get him in there at least once a series.

• Matt Harrison said his body was a little sore, but otherwise he was fine, one day after pitching 6 1/3 innings against the Braves and having to endure a two-hour, 16-minute rain delay in the fifth inning.

• Elvis Andrus is only the 10th player in the past 20 years to have two steals of home in a season. None have done it more than twice.

• The Rangers have signed their 27th-round pick, pitcher Kyle DeVore from Sacramento City College.