Yu Darvish is considered the ace of the Texas Rangers’ rotation, and his electric stuff, seven wins and a baseball-best 105 strikeouts stand as considerable pieces of evidence.

Left-hander Derek Holland, though, could make an ace case for himself after a splendid month of May. He doesn’t strike out as many hitters as Darvish, but all he did in May was win.

He capped a perfect month Friday night by allowing two runs (one earned) in seven innings against a Kansas City team that has lost nine of its past 10 games.

Nelson Cruz swatted a three-run homer, and Adrian Beltre went 4 for 4 with a solo shot as Rangers rolled 7-2 to open the three-game series with the Royals and put a close to the Rangers’ second straight 17-win month.

Like Darvish, Holland kept it humble and had to be pressed as to why he pitched so well last month.

“Just attacking the zone,” he said. “I’ve been going right after hitters. I try to make as much happen as I can.”

Holland improved to 4-0 in May, and the Rangers won all six of his starts. His ERA has dropped to 2.81, best among the starting rotation, and he has crept into the top 10 in strikeouts with 72.

That’s ace stuff, though manager Ron Washington didn’t anoint Holland.

“If Yu Darvish wasn’t on the staff right now, I guess you could say Holland would be the ace,” Washington said. “He was outstanding again tonight.”

But Holland (5-2) was trailing 1-0 after an Alcides Escobar single with one out in the third, and Kansas City threatened for more only to see Holland get Lorenzo Cain on a bouncer back to the mound and Billy Butler on an inning-ending fielder’s choice.

Innings like that have snowballed on Holland in the past, but he has shown a knack at avoiding the big inning this season.

“You’ve got to limit as much damage as you can,” Holland said. “I thought I did a good job with that, and our guys came back and did their job.”

The Rangers countered quickly and loudly with two outs in their half of the third. David Murphy singled off pitcher Wade Davis’ legs, and Lance Berkman followed with another infield hit.

Beltre drove home Murphy with a clean single up the middle, and Cruz cleared the bases with his 13th homer of the season for a 4-1 lead.