ARLINGTON, Texas -- The Rangers were counting on Vicente Padilla to be a key member of their rotation before injuries and ineffectiveness at the start of the season spoiled those plans.
Now he's trying to finish on a positive note.
Padilla pitched two-hit shutout ball for six innings, Hank Blalock had two hits and two RBI, and the Rangers hung on to beat the Kansas City Royals 3-2 on Wednesday night.
Michael Young added two hits, and Frank Catalanotto reached base three times to help the Rangers win for the ninth time in their last 11 games.
Padilla (5-9) struck out five and walked two as the Royals got only one runner as far as third base against him.
"Honestly, that's what I expect from Padilla every time out there," Rangers catcher Gerald Laird said. "I don't expect anything less. He was working well with the fastball ahead in the count."
Padilla lost six of his first seven decisions and then was out from June 25 to Aug. 14 due to right triceps irritation.
But he was sharp from the outset in this one, retiring nine of the first 10 batters he faced, allowing only a first-inning walk until Mark Grudzielanek singled leading off the fourth.
Manager Ron Washington went to his bullpen after Padilla had thrown 90 pitches, 60 for strikes.
Padilla was unavailable for comment after the game.
"He had a good fastball around the zone," Washington said. "That opened everything else up. When he uses his fastball like that, he's pretty effective. Earlier in the year he was inconsistent. The only thing that matters is what he did tonight."
Joaquin Benoit, the Rangers' fifth pitcher, pitched a perfect ninth for his third save in seven chances.
Six of the Rangers' last seven victories have been by one run. The Rangers moved to nine games under .500 (65-74) for the first time since May 21.
"We're trying to create an attitude for the Texas Rangers," Washington said. "I said a couple of weeks ago I wish this were April. We could go against anyone right now. We've done the little things. Scratch out a run here and there and you can win close ballgames."
Royals starter Kyle Davies (2-4) allowed two runs -- one earned -- and three hits in five innings. He struck out five and walked four.
Davies was making his seventh start since he was acquired from the Atlanta Braves for reliever Octavio Dotel on July 31. He was 4-8 with a 5.76 ERA in 17 starts for the Braves.
Davies allowed the leadoff man to get on base in each of his first three innings, and he said that was his downfall.
"The object is to get the first batter you face and I didn't do that," Davies said. "But I was able to locate my fastball better and that's some progress."
After the game, Royals manager Buddy Bell ripped his team for a lack of effort.
"You can't show up for 150 games, you've got to show up for 162," said Bell, who will step down at the end of the season. "If you don't show up for 162, you're going to get hammered. That's what happened to us the last two nights.
"We had no energy. I don't understand how you can do that and that's my responsibility. You've got to care more than that."
Blalock's RBI double in the second put Texas on the board, and Young singled in a run in the fifth to make it 2-0.
Kansas City loaded the bases with two out in the sixth but Padilla retired Alex Gordon on a called third strike to preserve a 2-0 lead.
Blalock's run-scoring single in the sixth off John Bale made it 3-0.
John Buck's two-run homer off Wes Littleton in the seventh drew the Royals within 3-2. It was Buck's 18th home run of the year.
The teams met for the final time this season with Kansas City holding a 5-4 edge. ...Texas is 39-32 at home. ...The Royals need one more win to avoid their fourth consecutive 100-loss season. ... Padilla hit Kansas City's Mike Sweeney on the right wrist with a pitch in the sixth but Sweeney remained in the game. ... Texas' Ian Kinsler had a 10-game hitting streak snapped. ... The crowd of 17,232 was the smallest at home for the Rangers this season. ... Rangers LHP Bill White made his major league debut in the seventh.