MINNEAPOLIS (AP) – Yu Darvish knows it’s going to take time to adjust to major league hitters.
Nothing like a couple of bases-loaded situations to speed that process along.
Darvish kept wriggling out of trouble in five-plus innings, Josh Hamilton homered among his three hits and the Texas Rangers beat the Minnesota Twins 6-2 on Saturday.
“He was much better,” said Rangers manager Ron Washington when asked to compare Darvish on Saturday to his first outing on April 10. “Still have to work on getting ahead of hitters quicker. But he was much better today with his command.”
Adrian Beltre drove in two runs and put Texas ahead with a single in the seventh that scored Brandon Snyder, who had a career-high three hits.
The Rangers won their third straight and for the sixth time in seven games.
Denard Span led the Twins with three hits and an RBI double that tied the game at 2 in the sixth.
But the Twins failed to score with the bases loaded on three occasions, and lost for the sixth time in their first eight games.
“The past few games, we haven’t been getting hits, stringing them together,” said left fielder Josh Willingham, who had two hits and has hit safely in each of the Twins’ first eight games. “We had people on base almost every inning, but couldn’t get the big hit.”
Darvish, making his second start, was removed after hitting Jamey Carroll and walking Justin Morneau to load the bases with two outs in the sixth. He allowed two runs — one earned — on nine hits, striking out four and walking four.
The Japanese sensation did his best work when he was in trouble on Saturday. The Twins loaded the bases in the second and the fifth, but Darvish struck out Carroll in the second and Ryan Doumit in the fifth to escape.
“That’s what good pitchers do,” Washington said.
Darvish also prevented a run in the fourth by tagging out Doumit at home when a pitch in the dirt bounced away from catcher Mike Napoli.
“The main adjustment I have to make right now is knowing the hitters, knowing the teams,” Darvish said through an interpreter. “If I can start to learn those hitters and record them in my mind, those are the adjustments that I have to go through. It’ll get much better as the season goes on.”
Robbie Ross (1-0) relieved Darvish and got Morneau to pop out in foul territory to end Minnesota’s bases-loaded threat in the sixth.
Twins starter Nick Blackburn was matching Darvish before leaving with one out in the sixth with right shoulder stiffness. He is day to day and will get an MRI.
Brian Duensing (0-1) relieved Blackburn and got out of the sixth without allowing a run.
Jeff Gray relieved Duensing with runners on first and third in the seventh and allowed RBI singles to Beltre and Michael Young, making it 4-2.
Mitch Moreland, the Rangers regular first baseman, was a late-scratch after being up most of the night with a painful abscessed tooth. Snyder was given his first start of the season and made the most of it.
“Any time you get a chance to get in there, it’s something to remember,” Snyder said. “There was no real sense of anxiety. It was just about going out and playing the game again.”
Hamilton hit a 425-foot shot that sailed over the right-field bleachers and bounced high off the Target Field pavilion, putting the Rangers up 2-1 in the third.
Texas added two runs in the ninth on Beltre’s double and Trevor Plouffe’s throwing error.
Joe Nathan, the Twins all-time saves leader, pitched the ninth in his first appearance in Minnesota since signing with the Rangers in the offseason.
(Copyright 2012 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)