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White Sox, Holland cruise to third straight victory

Derek Holland lowered his ERA to 2.47 with eight innings of one-run ball. (Getty Images)

SEATTLE — Manager Rick Renteria wants to win.

Of course he does — who doesn’t?

But in a rebuilding year, when it’s not considered priority No. 1 in the White Sox’ big scheme of things, Renteria isn’t totally with the program. He’s totally into winning as many games as he can, even if that means knocking the Sox down in the 2018 draft order.

Renteria believes a winning record is within reach, although that might become a lofty ambition should some of his players get traded in the coming months.

“A winning record for us is a successful season,’’ said Renteria, whose club defeated the Mariners 8-1 Sunday at Safeco Field.

With their third win — all in succession and by a margin of 26-3 — in four games against the Mariners, the Sox (20-22) inched closer to the .500 mark. It came after they got swept by the Angels in Anaheim.

“I don’t underestimate our guys in any way,’’ Renteria said. “You’ve heard us talking about shooting for the stars and let’s see where we fall. Most people try to set a certain expectation, sometimes people lower the bar. I’m not that way. We raise, and we’re going to do the best we possibly can to do that and go beyond if we can. I think they play the game that way. I wouldn’t sell them short in any way, shape or form.’’

A night after scoring four runs in the first inning of a 16-1 rout of the Mariners, the Sox scored five in the first, staking left-hander Derek Holland (4-3, 2.47 ERA) to a comfortable lead. Holland went eight innings, allowing six hits — one a homer by former teammate Nelson Cruz — striking out six and walking two.

“You’ve got to keep yourself focused,’’ Holland said. “Even though we put up five right away, I’ve still got to treat it like it’s 0-0.’’

Righty Chris Heston, called up from Class AAA Tacoma to make the start for the pitching-depleted Mariners, walked three before giving up a two-out, two-run single to Yolmer Sanchez in the first. Singles by Tim Anderson (3-for-4, two RBI), Matt Davidson (2-for-4, two RBI) and Kevan Smith (2-for-4) drove in three more runs, Anderson’s and Smith’s of the infield variety. Sanchez extended his hitting streak to 12 games, matching a career high.

Anderson lofted his fifth homer to left in the third inning to make it 6-0.

With Sanchez manning second base with aplomb — he also made a tough catch in short right field — the Sox turned four double plays after turning four Saturday night.

“We’ve been playing great defense,’’ Renteria said.

Holland’s eight innings were a season high, and he has gone six or more in seven of his nine starts. Signed to a one-year deal to replenish the starting rotation after Chris Sale was traded to commence the rebuild, Holland could be flipped and bring a decent return in a trade to a contender before the deadline.

Bouncing back from a couple of subpar seasons with the Rangers, Holland hasn’t allowed more than three earned runs in any start.

“I’m very happy with that,’’ he said. “Working with [pitching coach Don Cooper] has been phenomenal, and Rick and all these guys have kept me in a loose environment, letting me be myself and having fun.

“I’m not going to get caught up in that because anything can happen. Baseball is a crazy game. I’m blessed with the opportunity to have a new scenery and work with these guys. They’ve taken me in, helped me out and gotten me to where I need to be.”

Follow me on Twitter @CST_soxvan.

Email: dvanschouwen@suntimes.com

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