ARLINGTON -- The No.1 thing manager Ron Washington asks of the five pitchers in the Texas Rangers' starting rotation is to keep their team in the game, and Derek Holland did that Saturday night.
He pitched six innings and allowed three runs, a quality start by definition, and exited with the game tied.
But the left-hander also gave the Chicago offense life when it was down and out in the third inning. A three-batter lapse led to two runs and had him kicking himself after the White Sox beat the Rangers 4-3 with a ninth-inning homer off Joe Nathan.
Alex Rios had the game-winning solo blast, but the big hit was a two-run double by Paul Konerko six innings earlier on an 0-2 pitch after a pair of walks with two outs and the bases empty.
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"That was really bad on my part," Holland said. "I'm really upset about that. You never want to go out there and give any free bases. One pitch got away from me. It is the pitch I wanted to throw, but I didn't get it in a good spot."
Chicago scored once in the first but appeared to be headed for a scoreless third after Holland erased his error on an Alejandro De Aza grounder with a pickoff for the second out. But he walked Brent Lillibridge and Adam Dunn, who hit .064 (6 for 94) against lefties last year, ahead of Konerko.
Holland threw a fastball and a changeup to jump ahead with two quick strikes, but Konerko drove a changeup that stayed up into the gap in right-center field. Lillibridge and Dunn scored to break a 1-1 tie.
The two-out walk ranks near the top of the list of things that make a manager go crazy.
"Especially after he got himself out of a jam by picking off the guy," Washington said. "There were two outs and nobody on the bag. Those are the type of things that Derek has to get past, and he will. In the past, it would have gotten worse, but he found himself getting through the sixth inning. He gave us a chance."
The Rangers, who got an RBI single from Mike Napoli in the second, gave Holland new life with two runs in their half of the third. De Aza made an ill-advised dive at an Ian Kinsler liner to center, and it turned into a leadoff triple. Elvis Andrus drove in Kinsler with a sharp single, went to second on a balk and advanced to third on an infield hit by Josh Hamilton.
Adrian Beltre's sacrifice fly brought in Andrus for a 3-3 tie.
Holland settled in over his final three innings, allowing only a leadoff walk in the sixth. White Sox starter Jake Peavy got stingy, too, with the only hits against him after the third a pair of doubles by David Murphy.
Both bullpens did their job over the next two innings, though Matt Thornton appeared to catch a break on a called strike on a 3-0 pitch to Napoli with the bases loaded. Napoli grounded into a force to end the inning.
"It was close," Napoli said.
The Rangers had 10 hits but stranded eight runners. Those missed chances finally caught up to them as Rios just cleared the wall -- and Hamilton's glove -- in center to start the ninth after Nathan tried to blow a fastball past him.
"I didn't think he'd be looking for that pitch right there," Nathan said. "I thought, if anything, he'd be fighting it off in that situation. If he did put a swing on it, I didn't think it'd be the type of swing for it to go out to center field."
Jeff Wilson, 817-390-7760