ARLINGTON (AP) – Nelson Cruz became the third player in major league history to homer in the first four games of a season, Derek Holland pitched six effective innings and the Texas Rangers remained one of four unbeaten teams with a 6-4 victory over the Seattle Mariners on Monday night.
Texas (4-0) is off to its best start since opening 7-0 in 1996, following up a three-game weekend sweep of Boston.
Baltimore (4-0), Philadelphia and Cincinnati (both 3-0) are the other undefeated teams.
Cruz joined Willie Mays (1971) and Mark McGwire (1998) as the only players to go deep in each of their first four games of a season.
Holland (1-0) was given the No. 4 spot in the rotation out of spring training and he cemented his role by allowing three runs and seven hits with five strikeouts and one walk.
Neftali Feliz worked a perfect ninth for his first save.
Elvis Andrus got the Rangers’ offense rolling in the first inning with his first homer in 705 at-bats, and Julio Borbon contributed a two-run triple.
Seattle lefty Erik Bedard (0-1) allowed five runs — three earned — and four hits over five innings in his first start in 20 months.
Bedard gave up two homers, but he struck out three and walked two in a positive step in his comeback from a series of shoulder injuries.
His previous start was July 25, 2009, before undergoing his third season-ending left shoulder surgery in a three-year span in August 2009. He missed all of last season.
Milton Bradley had three hits for the Mariners (2-2).
Gusty 20 mph wind made fly balls and popups a challenge for fielders. With two outs in the first, Rangers first baseman Mike Napoli was in foul territory lining up Bradley’s popup. But the ball sailed fair and dropped between Napoli and second baseman Ian Kinsler, with Bradley being credited with a single.
Andrus, who didn’t homer last season, hit the seventh of his career with nobody on in the first. When he ran down the dugout steps, his teammates remained seated with blank expressions. Manager Ron Washington was the first to offer congratulations, followed by the rest of the team.
The Rangers capitalized on Mariners right fielder Ichiro Suzuki’s error to make it 3-0 in the second. After Napoli drew a two-out walk, Yorvit Torrealba’s line drive to right kicked off the heel of Suzuki’s glove.
Borbon, the No. 9 hitter, followed with his two-run triple to right-center.
The Mariners rallied in the fourth on ex-Ranger Justin Smoak’s RBI double and Miguel Olivo’s run-scoring groundout, but Cruz’s solo shot in the bottom half made it 4-2.
Chone Figgins’ RBI groundout in the fifth pulled Seattle within 4-3, but Josh Hamilton’s two-out RBI double in the fifth restored Texas’ two-run pad.
Michael Young hit a leadoff double in the sixth and scored on Torrealba’s double-play grounder, making it 6-3.
Bradley doubled in the eighth against Arthur Rhodes and scored when Olivo singled with two outs.
(Copyright 2011 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)