Darvish fans 11 but drops duel against A's

Darvish fans 11 but drops duel against A's

Darvish fans 11 but drops duel against A's
ARLINGTON -- Yu Darvish pitched better than he did the last time he faced the A's. But it still wasn't enough.

Darvish lost for the first time in eight home starts, giving up three runs on five hits in seven innings while tying a career high with 11 strikeouts. The Rangers, who had scored 38 runs over their previous five games -- all wins -- could not come through for Darvish offensively.

Travis Blackley limited the Rangers to one run over seven innings, helping to keep the Rangers from pulling off a four-game sweep as they fell to the A's, 3-1, at the Ballpark in Arlington on Sunday night.

"It's amazing how tough it is to play the same team and win four games," manager Ron Washington said. "If [Darvish] goes out there and gives up runs, if three's the limit, I'll take that every time. They just got three and we got one."

Darvish retired the first six batters he faced, did not give up a hit until the fourth and held the A's scoreless until a Derek Norris single in the fifth. In the sixth, Yoenis Cespedes doubled off Darvish, whose next pitch was wild, allowing Jemile Weeks to score and give the A's a 2-1 lead.

"On the Cespedes double, I made a very good pitch," Darvish said. "The location was good. He just hit it. He's a very good hitter. After that, the wild pitch that scored a run, that's a very important at-bat where I've got to give it my all. I didn't make my pitch."

Elvis Andrus' two-out RBI single in the third brought home Ian Kinsler, who scored his Major League-leading 61st run. Andrus, who was one of two Rangers picked off by Blackley and was tagged out trying to advance on the RBI single, drove in the Rangers' lone run.

"We only put one run on the board," Washington said. "Their pitching staff did a good job when we had opportunities to push a run here and a run there. It was a well-pitched game on both sides."

Craig Gentry hit a ground-rule double that ricocheted off the center-field wall and Cespedes' leg to lead off the sixth. But Kinsler, Andrus and Josh Hamilton all flied out, stranding Gentry at third. Torrealba hit a leadoff single in the eighth but Hamilton, who went 0-for-4, stranded him 90 feet from home.

"Any time you give up a leadoff double, they probably score there 85 percent of the time," Blackley said. "Luckily, [Hamilton] swung at a pitch that probably wasn't a good one to swing at and popped out. It wasn't a great pitch at all -- just a floating, hanging changeup."

Brandon Moss provided the A's an insurance run in the seventh, depositing the first pitch Darvish threw that inning 406 feet in the upper deck over the right-field wall. The seventh also broke Darvish's streak of 14 straight innings with a strikeout. He threw 69 strikes out of 105 pitches, his fewest total in six starts.

"I felt good from the beginning and I felt strong until the end," Darvish said. "Tonight, we weren't able to play our game but we were still within striking distance and giving up that home run didn't allow the momentum to come to our side. I was very disappointed by that."

Despite the loss, the Rangers won their seventh series in a row by beating the A's in the first three games of the series. At 50-30, they still hold the Major League's best record.

"We're happy with where we're at," Michael Young said. "We feel like our best baseball is ahead of us. At the same time, we feel like we know how to win. It didn't happen tonight but we'll be ready to roll on Tuesday."

The day it was announced that Darvish would be one of five players on the AL Final Vote ballot, the Japanese rookie lost for the first time since his last start against the A's. Darvish had won his previous three starts, posting a 3.13 ERA and striking out 29 since the A's defeated him June 7. Before Sunday, Darvish was 7-0 with a 3.45 ERA at home.

"It's not like I pitched great every single time," Darvish said. "There were some games that I maybe should have lost. But the hitters picked me up and the relievers picked me up. That helped me accomplish that."

Darvish also struck out 11 in a win over the Astros June 15 and a loss to the Indians on June 6. He joined R.A. Dickey as the only other player to record five double-digit strikeout games this season.

Christian Corona is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.