TORONTO - Despite picking up the loss, left-hander Brad Mills will get another chance to start for the Toronto Blue Jays.
Mills pitched seven strong innings Saturday but it wasn't enough as his counterpart, Derek Holland (10-4), pitched a four-hitter for his fourth shutout of the season as the Blue Jays fell 3-0 to the Texas Rangers.
"He's definitely earned another opportunity, there's no doubt about it," Blue Jays manager John Farrell said. "He did a very good job today."
Mills (0-1) allowed six hits and two walks to go along with five strikeouts. The two runs he allowed came on Mitch Moreland's 13th homer of the season in the second inning.
"We went a cutter away first and were trying to go down and away with the heater and it just leaked back over (the plate)," Mills said. "I hadn't faced him before but I was told he likes to hang out over the plate and pull that outside pitch."
Right-hander Jesse Litsch, just recalled from triple-A Las Vegas like Mills, surrendered Mike Napoli's 15th homer of the season in the eighth.
Mills earned his chance to start Saturday for Toronto (54-53) after going 9-7 with a 3.99 earned-run average in 20 starts at Las Vegas.
"He threw the ball very well," Farrell said. "He gave us an opportunity to not only stay in the game but to win it.
"But the way Holland pitched today he stayed out of the middle of the plate and we ran into a very good pitching performance on his part."
Holland was dominating for the Rangers (61-47). In one stretch he retired 17-of-18 batters before J.P. Arencibia reached base on an infield single with one out in the eighth. But a double play ended the inning.
Blue Jays shortstop Yunel Escobar was ejected in the bottom of the sixth after he was called out at first on a grounder to second. He felt that first baseman Michael Young had come off the bag in taking the throw. Escobar put more energy into his protest than he did in his run to first base.
Mills went to two strikes and no balls to the first four batters he faced. But the fourth batter, Napoli, singled on a 2-2 count. Mills threw a first-pitch ball to the next batter, Moreland, and the second pitch left the park in centre for a two-run homer.
"In the first couple of innings I was trying to settle in," Mills said. "After I settled in I felt good, I felt strong, I was able to pitch my game."
The Blue Jays had a chance in the bottom of the second when Rajai Davis, who started in left field, walked with two out. John McDonald’s bunt single and a throwing error by Holland put runners at second and third.
Rangers manager Ron Washington visited Holland. "I told him how important that inning was," Washington said. "We had just put two runs up there. He got two quick outs and then he walks a guy and didn't make a play that he should make. The last thing we need is for him to let those runs score. Then I left."
Arencibia, batting .350 with five homers in six games since he was put in the No. 9 spot in the batting order, took a third strike on a 3-2 count to end the threat.
"It fired me up," Holland said. "I know I'm better than that. I shouldn't have been making those two-out mistakes. Especially after the offence just gave us some run support, I'm supposed to go out there and shut them down. I wasn't doing a very good job that inning. It was the right thing to do. It should have been a shutdown inning."