Darvish settles in, but Rangers can't catch up

Right-hander yields 3 early runs, finishes with season-high 11 K's

Darvish settles in, but Rangers can't catch up

KANSAS CITY -- Right-hander Yu Darvish gave the Rangers a quality start on Friday night, just their third in the last 19 games. He also struck out 11 over six innings, the 27th time in 88 career starts he has struck out 10 or more hitters in a game.

But Darvish also gave up a run in each of the first three innings as the Rangers couldn't overcome an early three-run deficit against Royals starter Danny Duffy in a 3-1 loss, their 15th defeat in the last 19 games.

"I felt good about what Yu did and what he showed us tonight," Rangers manager Jeff Banister said. "He showed that the life in his pitches are there. I look for big things from Darvish in his next few starts."

The first few innings were a struggle for Darvish and he had a phrase for it.

"Bad momentum," he said.

A potential batter's interference that didn't get called was part of the bad momentum.

"Not only that, I was trying to get ground balls and they were finding holes," Darvish said. "I had to be patient."

The bad moment started right away when Alcides Escobar opened the bottom of the first with a single on an 0-2 pitch. Darvish then struck out Cheslor Cuthbert, but Escobar was running on strike three and stole second as catcher Bobby Wilson's throw went into center field. Escobar went to third on the play.

Escobar swipes second base

The replay showed Cuthbert stepping in front of Wilson as he threw and Banister wanted batter's interference. But home-plate umpire Adrian Johnson said no.

"Tough no call," Banister said. "We have been called for less."

Escobar scored on Eric Hosmer's grounder to first.

"Personally, I thought he came across the plate and blocked my lane to throw," Wilson said. "The umpire saw it differently, said I needed to make more contact. I still threw the ball away. I was probably better off holding on to it."

Darvish only walked one batter and that was Alex Gordon with one out in the second. He stole second base and later scored on a single by Whit Merrifield. Cuthbert's home run in the third made it 3-0.

"Early in the game it was a different feeling, but I was able to make adjustments and it was better," Darvish said.

The turnaround came after Gordon led off the fourth with a triple and Darvish struck out the next three batters. But the Rangers could not catch up against Duffy and the Royals' bullpen.

Texas' only run came on a home run by Rougned Odor in the fourth and it only had two at-bats with runners in scoring position. The first one came when Ian Desmond struck out with the bases loaded in the third.

The Rangers, trailing 3-1, had one more chance in the seventh when Ryan Rua walked with one out and Nomar Mazara singled with two out off Duffy. Royals manager Ned Yost brought in right-hander Luke Hochevar to face Wilson and Banister countered with pinch-hitter Mitch Moreland.

Moreland worked the count full and then hit one hard to deep right field. But Paulo Orlando ran the ball down and the inning was over.

""I hit it good," Moreland said. "I did what I wanted to do. I got a good pitch and put a good swing on it. I just hit it to their guy."

It was part of the bad momentum.

T.R. Sullivan has covered the Rangers since 1989, and for MLB.com since 2006. Follow him on Twitter @Sullivan_Ranger and listen to his podcast. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.