Hamilton provides pop as Yu takes down Tigers

Hamilton provides pop as Yu takes down Tigers

Hamilton provides pop as Yu takes down Tigers
ARLINGTON -- Yu Darvish's five walks were characteristic of his recent struggles. The fact that he turned in a quality start and picked up a win for the first time in more than three weeks was not.

Darvish, who was 1-3 with a 7.76 ERA in five starts after the All-Star break entering Sunday, held the Tigers to three runs -- all in the fifth inning -- on six hits over 6 2/3 innings while striking out eight. Josh Hamilton hit his Major League-leading 32nd home run and the Rangers scored on two errors and two wild pitches, winning Sunday's series finale, 8-3, at the Ballpark in Arlington.

"He was the king," manager Ron Washington said of his starting pitcher. "He was standing out in the middle, the highest point on the field, and he acted like he was the king. He was tension-free, he was confident, he was competing. He was executing his pitches."

Despite winning just once since the beginning of July, Darvish was sharp on Sunday, improving to 12-8 this year and tying Chris Young, Kevin Brown and Ed Correa for the Rangers rookie record for wins. In three starts against the Tigers this year, Darvish is 3-0 with a 3.60 ERA while Detroit hitters are batting .169 against Darvish. Only one of the five Tigers he walked on Sunday scored.

"I was able to attack the zone, be aggressive, especially from the middle of the game on, I was able to go after them with my fastball," Darvish said. "I think the biggest difference was that after I walked those guys, I didn't think about it. I didn't let it drag on into my next hitters. I just concentrated on competing against the next hitter and getting those guys out."

"He beat us three times, so obviously he's been tough on us," Tigers manager Jim Leyland said. "He actually started to command his fastball a little better later in the game. He's got a good fastball, but against us he's been a breaking-ball pitcher, until the last couple innings today."

Hamilton blasted a 1-1 fastball from Tigers starter Rick Porcello 419 feet over the center-field wall in the first inning. He brought home Elvis Andrus with a single to right in the third inning, giving him 99 RBIs this season and breaking a tie with Miguel Cabrera for the most in the Majors.

"When you're patient, you're in a better position to see the ball and you're going to have a better swing," Hamilton said. "I'm just making my mind up that I'm going to try to focus better on taking more pitches and getting in better hitter's counts. My third at-bat, I struck out. [Porcello] didn't throw me a strike. I asked the umpire."

Ian Kinsler's sacrifice fly in the third gave the Rangers a commanding 6-0 lead before Alex Avila scored on Omar Infante's RBI double in the fifth. Cabrera cut the Rangers' lead to 6-3 with a two-run double later in the inning, but that's as close as the Tigers would get.

Hamilton, who is riding a 10-game hit streak, batted fifth in the last three games of July before returning to his customary third spot in the lineup. Since then, he is batting .319 with three home runs and 15 RBIs in August after hitting .177 with four homers in 11 RBIs in July. His 32 homers this season tie a career high he set in 2008 and matched in 2010.

"When I put him in the fifth spot, he was in a different place so he had to make some adjustments," Washington said. "Since then, he's been zeroing in on the strike zone. It's impossible to step in that box and see as many pitches as these guys see and not chase. You just have to minimize your chases and how far you chase them. He quit chasing them a mile out of the strike zone and he's just chasing them half a mile."

The Rangers, who scored a Major League-low 81 runs over 23 games in July, have scored 71 runs in 11 August games. They took advantage of several Tigers miscues, turning two Detroit errors into a pair of runs in the third inning and scoring two more times on a pair of wild pitches by reliever Brayan Villarreal in the seventh.

"That's a part of our game," Washington said. "When you have the type of athletes I have, you have to let them go. They'll make some mistakes, but they'll learn from those mistakes and they'll put pressure on the other team's defense. When we're playing like that, that's when we're at our best."

The Rangers took two of three games from the Tigers this weekend, clinching their third series win over Detroit this season and winning their third straight series overall. They also improved to 8-3 in August, one win shy of matching their total from July, and extended their lead in the American League West to 6 1/2 games, tied for their largest division lead of the season. At 67-46, they have the AL's best record heading into a four-game series against the 67-47 Yankees, who own the league's second-best record.

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