Holland went 8 2/3 innings against the Mariners on Thursday and allowed one run on two hits and a walk. He struck out 10.
"We don't expect that every time, but what happened in his last outing is he understands he can pitch," Washington said. "That's what we've been trying to do."
The Rangers don't have any other options right now. Dustin Nippert, the Rangers' de facto sixth starter, took the mound on Monday night. He was replacing Kevin Millwood, who has been pushed back to Saturday because of a strained gluteus muscle. Doug Mathis can start, but right now he is being used in long relief.
Holland is 2-5 with a 5.59 ERA in 10 starts and 2-1 with a 5.48 ERA in 12 relief appearances.
"Either way, it doesn't matter to me," Holland said. "I still have to go out and pitch. The big thing is to stay ahead of hitters. That's a huge thing, and mixing up my offspeed pitches."
The one possible option that might emerge as some point in August is Brandon McCarthy, who was placed on the disabled list on June 9 with a stress fracture in his right shoulder blade. McCarthy is scheduled to throw either batting practice or a simulated game on Wednesday. If that goes well, he could begin an injury rehabilitation assignment with Triple-A Oklahoma City this coming weekend.
McCarthy is hoping that four starts with Oklahoma City will be enough to get him ready to pitch at the Major League level by mid to late August.
"That's my goal," said McCarthy, who is in Oakland with the Ranges. "It all depends on how things are going here and if I'm getting results."
McCarthy was 5-2 with a 4.92 ERA in 11 starts before he was placed on the DL for the fourth time in three years. He has since gone through a complete overhaul of his mechanics, hoping to relieve the stress on his arm that has contributed to his physical issues.
"It's a work in progress," McCarthy said. "There is a perfectionist side of me that's not happy with the inconsistency. But it's a process. If I get four starts, it will get better and better. It has been getting better each time off the mound, but there is still a lot of work to be done."
TEX: LHP Derek Holland (4-6, 5.56 ERA)
Holland was perfect through 4 2/3 innings on Thursday and retired 26 of 29 batters faced. He struck out a career-high 10, the highest by a Rangers rookie left-hander. Holland's 118 pitches were a career high and the first time he's broken 100 in his career. Against the Mariners in his career, he has a 4.50 ERA over four innings pitched in two games. On the road this season, Holland is 1-2 with a 4.25 ERA over 36 innings.
OAK: LHP Gio Gonzalez (2-2, 7.38 ERA)
Gonzalez matched a career high by striking out eight Red Sox on Thursday at Fenway Park. The 23-year-old left-hander yielded three runs over 5 1/3 innings, earning the praise of manager Bob Geren for executing a simplified game plan centered around pounding the strike zone. He has not allowed a run in three career innings against the Rangers, all of which came last season.
Washington said the Rangers are getting good reports on pitcher Kris Benson, who is 2-2 with a 5.34 ERA at Triple-A Oklahoma. ... Eddie Guardado needs two more appearances to reach 900 for his career. ... Michael Young has a 10-game hitting streak. ... Right fielder Nelson Cruz twisted his ankle on the final play of Monday's loss and is listed as day-to-day.
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