ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. (AP) – The Rays would have been happy to have Yu Darvish push back his season debut one more day.
Darvish kept them off the board when it counted and allowed seven hits over seven innings in his season debut, and Elvis Andrus hit a two-run homer off Joel Peralta in the eighth for the Rangers, who salvaged the final game of a three-game series.
Alex Cobb allowed three hits, walked one and struck out six in seven shutout innings for the Rays. Only one runner reached second against the Tampa Bay right-hander.
“He mixed up his pitchers really well, kept the ball down and elevated when he had to,” Wil Myers said. “I had three (chances) myself and just didn’t get the job done. He threw a good sequence of pitches to me. Just a tough day.”
Darvish (1-0) struck out six and walked one. He got his 500th career strikeout, coming in 401 2-3 innings, by fanning David DeJesus and Wil Myers in the first. According to the Rangers, it is the fewest innings for a starter to reach 500 strikeouts in major league history.
The game was scoreless until Andrus hit Peralta’s 3-2 fastball over the left-field wall with two out in the eighth. Shin-Soo Choo reached base with a single off Peralta’s glove.
The Rays had one hit in each of the first eight innings, including leadoff hits in the fifth, sixth, seventh and eighth. But they were 0 for 11 with runners in scoring position.
“We just did not get the knock when we needed it,” Rays manager Joe Maddon said.
Tampa Bay had runners on second and third with one out in the fifth, but Myers hit an infield pop fly and Ben Zobrist flied out. Darvish got three consecutive outs after allowing Evan Longoria’s double to lead off the sixth. He also worked out of a jam during the seventh after Ryan Hanigan hit a leadoff double.
Joakim Soria pitched the ninth for his first save.
Cobb was back in form after a sub-par outing in his first start, a 4-2 loss to Toronto on Tuesday.
“It really made me focus this week and try to figure out what was going on. You have a bad outing and you’re that much more determined to get your stuff together and figure it out,” he said. “Unfortunately for us, (Darvish) was really on.”
Notes: Darvish, who missed his first turn through the rotation due to a sore neck, was activated from the 15-day disabled list and RHP Nick Martinez was optioned to Double-A Frisco. … The Rays have scored a total of two runs in their three losses . . . Texas RHP Tanner Scheppers (0-0) will face Boston RHP John Lackey (1-0) Monday night in the opener of a three-games series at Fenway Park. … Tampa Bay LHP Matt Moore (0-1) and Royals LHP Jason Vargas (0-0) are the scheduled starters for Monday night’s game in Kansas City.