After a shaky start, Darvish settled down to earn his ninth win of the season, as he allowed two runs in eight innings in a 4-2 victory over the Padres before a crowd of 23,942 who saw the Rangers complete a three-game Interleague series sweep.
In fact, his last 10 pitches in that eighth inning, good for three outs, two on strikeouts, might have been his 10 best successive pitches of the game.
Darvish, who had some familiarity with the Padres, having faced them in Spring Training, was dinged for two runs in the second inning and essentially nothing else, as the Rangers (43-27) overcame an early deficit to top the Padres (24-46).
The Padres finished with six hits, though only three came after the second inning. Darvish (9-4) finished with eight strikeouts and three walks.
"I thought he got sharper as the game went on. I thought we had him on the ropes. But then he settled down and made his pitches from the third or fourth inning on," said Padres third baseman Chase Headley.
The Padres felt they had Darvish in a tight spot early. He walked two in the first inning, and then they put him on alert in the second inning thanks to the bat of pitcher -- yes, pitcher -- Anthony Bass.
Bass hit a two-run single down the first-base line during that second inning to score Baker and Alexi Amarista.
"We had some good at-bats and Anthony had the big hit," said Padres manager Bud Black.
But Bass, who allowed one run on three hits over five innings, felt discomfort in his right shoulder during the fifth. He left the game soon thereafter with what the team called right shoulder inflammation. He will be re-examined on Thursday.
"I just knew something wasn't right," Bass said.
The Padres know the feeling; after all, they have five starting pitchers currently on the disabled list -- Tim Stauffer, Cory Luebke, Eric Stults, Dustin Moseley and Joe Wieland. They can ill afford to lose another pitcher to the DL.
The Rangers trailed, 2-0, until the fifth inning, when former Padre Alberto Gonzalez hit a two-out RBI single.
In the sixth inning, and with relief pitcher Dale Thayer (0-2) on the mound, the Rangers tied the game and later took the lead. With the bases loaded and one out, Nelson Cruz bounced a ball to Headley at third base. Headley opted against throwing home or stepping on third base, instead trying to turn a 5-4-3 double play. Cruz was able to beat the return thrown from Amarista, which allowed the tying run to score.
"I didn't think I could make it to the bag," Headley said. "Unfortunately, I didn't get a great grip on the ball. Later in the game or if it's the go-ahead run, maybe I think twice about it."
The Rangers then took the lead for good when reliever Brad Boxberger walked Yorvit Torrealba with the bases loaded to make it 3-2.
The rest was up to Darvish, who by the end of his outing looked as though he could have probably gone all nine innings instead of deferring to closer Joe Nathan, who earned his 15th save.
"After the second inning -- the first two it looked like he was trying to find his rhythm. ... After they scored those two runs, he went back out there in the third, and from that point on, he wasn't going to be denied," said Rangers manager Ron Washington. "His breaking ball came, his cutter came, he moved the ball around the zone pretty good. He did a great job."