PHOENIX (AP) – A very long Memorial Day weekend came to an unpleasant end for Yu Darvish and the rest of the Texas Rangers.
Darvish dominated Arizona most of Monday night but gave up a tying homer to Didi Gregorius in the eighth inning, then Cliff Pennington singled home the winning run in the ninth as the Diamondbacks beat Texas 5-4 to complete a doubleheader sweep.
The two losses came on the heels of a 4-3 defeat at Seattle in 13 innings Sunday. A five-game road trip that began so well ended at 2-3.
“Yesterday we had a chance to win the game and today we had a chance to win both of those games,” Rangers catcher A.J. Pierzynski said. “It just wasn’t meant to be.”
Darvish matched his career best with 14 strikeouts and Texas led 4-2 entering the eighth inning before Gregorius connected for a two-run shot.
Gregorius also had an RBI triple in the first.
In the opener, Arizona’s Tyler Skaggs struck out nine over six scoreless innings and the Diamondbacks held on to win 5-3.
Brad Ziegler (2-1) faced two batters, retiring one, to get the victory. Jason Frasor (0-1) took the loss.
After giving up two runs in the first, Darvish was in complete control until Wil Nieves led off the eighth with a pinch-hit single. Cody Ross struck out, then Gregorius lashed a 2-0 pitch over the fence in right field to tie it at 4.
“He threw me a low cutter and I put good wood on it,” Gregorius said, “and it was like a line drive and it went out. ”
Darvish had dominated with his cut fastball and did not hesitate to use it again.
“I had to get a strike in there. I didn’t want a 3-0 count,” he said. “I tried to hit the corner but he hit it pretty well.”
Darvish, in just the second no-decision in his 11 starts this season, gave up seven hits but did not walk a batter. All three of his 14-strikeout performances have come this year. He is the first pitcher since Arizona’s Randy Johnson in 2004 to have three games with at least 14 strikeouts in one season.
“Baseball’s not a competition about getting strikeouts,” Darvish said. “It’s about winning.”
Darvish pitched well, Texas manager Ron Washington said. “It’s just unfortunate that one pitch made the difference in the ballgame late.”
Miguel Montero led off the ninth with a double against Frasor. With one out, Robbie Ross walked pinch-hitter Martin Prado intentionally. That brought up the usually light-hitting Pennington, who sliced one down the right-field line to score Montero from second and give Arizona the comeback victory.
On Darvish’s first two pitches of the game, Gerardo Parra singled, then Gregorius tripled down the right-field line to make it 1-0. Gregorius just beat left fielder David Murphy’s throw on Eric Chavez’s sacrifice fly for Arizona’s second opening-inning run.
In the second, Adrian Beltre doubled over the head of left fielder Jason Kubel, took second on a wild pitch and scored on Pierzynski’s sacrifice fly to cut the lead to 2-1.
The Rangers tied it with an unearned run in the fourth. Singles by Lance Berkman and Pierzynski put runners at first and second with one out. Craig Gentry bounced to third for what could have been an inning-ending double play, but Pennington’s relay throw was wild. Berkman scored on the play to knot it at 2.
Texas took the lead with two runs in the sixth. Berkman drew a one-out walk and Beltre singled. Pierzynski’s single brought home the go-ahead run, then Beltre scored when Gentry grounded into a fielder’s choice to put Texas up 4-2.
In the opener, the ever-aggressive Rangers struck out a season-high 15 times. Heath Bell got two outs for his ninth save
“I wouldn’t say that we were trying to do too much, we just missed the pitches,” Washington said. “The way we swung the bat is the way we always swing the bat. We swing like that and we catch ’em, it is great.”
Skaggs (1-0), who lost out to Patrick Corbin for Arizona’s fifth starting spot in the spring, was recalled from Triple-A Reno after scheduled starter Ian Kennedy cut his right index finger washing dishes. Skaggs used his nasty curveball to perfection.
“He commanded it and threw it anywhere he wanted to,” Texas’ Elvis Andrus said. “He threw a lot of strikes and kept us off balance.”
The game was a matchup of 21-year-old left-handers, and Texas’ Martin Perez (0-1) didn’t fare as well as his Arizona counterpart, allowing four runs, three earned, and nine hits in 5 1-3 innings.
“The problem today was I wasn’t throwing first strikes,” Perez said. “Every time I was behind in the count. You have to attack early. When I missed my fastball and went for a changeup, they were waiting for the changeup. It was location. I am young and I must learn.”
Beltre had a two-run single in Texas’ three-run ninth.
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