ARLINGTON, Texas -- John Rheinecker had allowed 37 hits over his previous four starts, and he knew he had to make some adjustments if he expected to pitch deep into the game against the hot-hitting Toronto Blue Jays.
The rookie left-hander threw seven strong innings and Mark DeRosa had three hits and three RBI to lead the Texas Rangers to a 6-1 victory Monday night.
Rheinecker (4-2) gave up one run and five hits, struck out three and walked one for the Rangers, who had lost seven of eight.
Rheinecker had won only one of his previous four starts, and the Rangers wanted him to slow down his delivery while decreasing the time between pitches.
"The important thing was staying within myself, not trying to throw too hard and letting the ball move," Rheinecker said.
Toronto started the day leading the majors in batting average (.297), slugging percentage (.488), hits and total bases, making the Blue Jays quite a challenge for a rookie facing them for the first time.
The Blue Jays began the night hitting .321 against left-handers and they had 10 or more hits in each of their previous five games.
"When you look down their offensive numbers, that makes his outing even more remarkable," Rangers manager Buck Showalter said.
Right-handed hitters had a .383 average against Rheinecker at the start of the night, and Blue Jays manager John Gibbons had seven right-handed bats in his lineup.
Rheinecker, who allowed five runs in four innings of his previous start, worked inside against the right-handed batters.
"I stayed in on a lot of guys this time," Rheinecker said.
Ted Lilly (8-8) nearly matched Rheinecker, allowing two runs and five hits in six innings. He struck out six and walked three.
The Blue Jays failed to make up ground in the AL East on the Boston Red Sox and New York Yankees, both of whom lost on Monday night.
"We're trying to catch Boston," Lilly said. "We've got to go out and win every night. As a starting pitcher, you've got to take some responsibility."
DeRosa, inserted into the starting lineup to give regular third baseman Hank Blalock a night off, led off the sixth with his fourth homer on a changeup by Lilly that caught too much of the plate to give the Rangers a 2-1 lead.
"I'm not going to sleep as well as I'd like to because of that," Lilly said. "A changeup out over the plate in that situation, I don't think I needed to throw a strike right there."
Texas, which had scored 14 runs in its previous seven games, pushed across a run in the second on Jason Botts' sacrifice fly.
Rheinecker shut out the Blue Jays over the first five innings, allowing one hit.
Rheinecker retired six straight hitters before the Blue Jays opened the sixth by loading the bases on consecutive singles by Reed Johnson, Aaron Hill and Vernon Wells.
After Troy Glaus was retired on a pop-up, Johnson scored the tying run on Shea Hillenbrand's fielder's choice. Rheinecker got out of the inning with the score tied at 1 when Bengie Molina grounded out.
"The key was that sixth inning," Gibbons said.
The Blue Jays usually feast on fastballs, and they were unable to string together good at-bats against a soft-throwing lefty.
"Those finesse guys give us trouble," Gibbons said. "He's good. He's been struggling lately, but he was on tonight."
Texas stretched its lead to 5-1 with a three-run seventh against Pete Walker on Michael Young's RBI double and DeRosa's two-run single.
Young made it 6-1 in the eighth when he drove in a run with his major league-leading 30th double.
Rheinecker was making his eighth career start, all this season. He has a 1.57 ERA and a run support average of 6.91 in his four wins. ... The Blue Jays opened a seven-game road trip after a 6-3 homestand. Toronto had won five of its previous six. ... Glaus got his eighth start of the season at SS. He has started 65 of 76 games at 3B, but Gibbons wanted to get Hillenbrand's bat into the lineup. ... The Rangers have won seven of their last eight against the Blue Jays.