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Yu’s 11 Strikeouts Help Rangers Beat Astros

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ARLINGTON (AP) – Yu Darvish matched his major-league high with 11 strikeouts over eight innings after an extended break and the AL West-leading Texas Rangers beat the Houston Astros 6-2 on Friday night.

David Murphy lined a two-run single in a five-run fifth off Jordan Lyles (1-3), when the Rangers had two popups fall for hits after an error and a hit batsman started the rally.

Darvish (8-4) scattered seven hits and gave up two runs while throwing 76 of his 110 pitches for strikes. He had two walks.

After Jordan Schafer’s infield single to start the sixth, Darvish struck out eight of the last 11 batters he faced — including the side in the eighth against the heart of the Astros order.

The Japanese right-hander was given extra time between starts after walking six and allowing six runs in 5 1-3 innings in a 7-1 loss at Oakland eight days earlier. He was 1-3 with a 6.53 ERA his previous four starts with 18 walks in 20 2-3 innings — all against teams he was facing for the second time in the majors.

Darvish is 6-0 with a 3.15 ERA in six starts at Rangers Ballpark. Take out the first two innings of his debut — when he allowed five runs in what wound up being an 11-5 victory over Seattle — and that home ERA dips to 2.13.

He is the only pitcher in the majors with at least three starts at home to win every one of those games.

Joe Nathan worked the ninth in a non-save situation, allowing a hit with two strikeouts.

The Rangers have won 12 of the last 16 games in the interleague series against Houston, which soon will be a division rival. The Astros are moving next season from the NL Central to the AL West.

Murphy’s liner to center was the hardest-hit ball by the Rangers in their big inning.

Mitch Moreland hit his 10th homer for Texas, a towering solo shot pulled into the second deck of seats in right field in the eighth.

Ian Kinsler reached in the fifth on a one-out throwing error by third baseman Chris Johnson before Elvis Andrus was hit by a pitch. The Rangers then had five consecutive singles, the first a soft liner by Michael Young that tied the game at 1. Adrian Beltre then hit a grounder out of reach of the shortstop to drive in the tiebreaking run.

Nelson Cruz hit a popup that dropped behind second base in front of charging center fielder Jordan Schafer. Murphy lined a single up the middle before Yorvit Torrealba hit a blooper that dropped near the line in shallow right.

Beltre scored on Murphy’s hit when Schafer’s throw skipped under the mitt of catcher Jason Castro. Beltre went past the plate while going wide to avoid a potential play, and actually had to backtrack to touch it — though there was time since the ball was near the backstop.

Lyles gave up five runs, three earned, and eight hits in 4 1-3 innings. The right-hander struck out one and walked two.

Houston was ahead 1-0 in the third after Jose Altuve drew a leadoff walk, stole second base and scored on a single by Jed Lowrie.

Justin Maxwell hit a two-out solo homer, his seventh of the season, on the first pitch he got in the seventh.

Fernando Abad, activated from the 15-day disabled list earlier Friday when reliever Wilton Lopez (sprained right elbow) was put on the DL, pitched 1 1-3 scoreless innings after relieving Lyles.

(Copyright 2012 by The Associated Press.  All Rights Reserved.)

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