ARLINGTON, Texas (AP) — Yu Darvish returned to his dominant form.
The star pitcher allowed just four hits over eight sharp innings and the Texas Rangers beat Minnesota 5-0 on Saturday, handing the Twins their fifth straight loss.
Darvish (8-4) allowed only one hit and one walk after the second inning in lowering his earned run average to 2.42 following two consecutive defeats and his home ERA to 1.83. With 10 strikeouts, he hit double digits for the fifth in his last eight starts.
Adrian Beltre had three hits for the Rangers and scored Texas’ first run, which proved to be all the Rangers needed, in the second inning. Shin-Soo Chin and Leonys Martin added two hits each.
“I thought he was Yu Darvish again,” Rangers manager Ron Washington said. “I don’t care how good you are. There will be bumps in the road. There will be times when things don’t go right. And that even can happen for Yu Darvish. It was good for him to go out there today and find his pitches that worked.”
Darvish, though, said he was unable to find a comfortable delivery throughout the game.
“I just couldn’t find the right one today,” he said through an interpreter, “but I managed to pitch those eight innings. I can’t say I was disappointed.”
No matter the delivery, Darvish frustrated the Twins with a cut fastball that was particularly effective against lefties.
“I’d say (Darvish’s cutter) is probably his best pitch,” said Twins DH Joe Mauer, whose first-inning single extended his hitting streak to a season-high nine games. “He can definitely make the ball move in a lot of different directions.”
Phil Hughes (8-4) lost for only the second time in eight road starts this season, allowing all five runs on 11 hits in 7 2-3 innings.
“It’s not been going our way as of late,” Twins leftfielder Chris Parmelee said, “but our hitting will come around.”
Neal Cotts finished for Texas in a non-save situation and retired the side in order.
The Rangers have won the first two of the three-game weekend series with the Twins following a season-long eight-game losing streak.
The shutout was Texas’ 14 of the season, tops in the American League and one short of the St. Louis Cardinals’ major league leading total.
Beltre scored on a double by Chris Gimenez on a fly to straight-away center that sailed just beyond the reach of Sam Fuld. The Rangers added a second run in the third inning when Rougned Odor singled, stole second, advanced on an infield out and scored on a dribbler back to the mound by Elvis Andrus.
The Rangers added three insurance runs in the eighth, one on a squeeze bunt by rookie Luis Sardinas. They chased Hughes, who went into the game with a 1.52 ERA in five previous career appearances at Globe Life Park.
Darvish’s strong outing followed a quality start by Nick Tepesch on Friday night to give Texas consecutive quality starts for the first time since June 14-15.
The Twins put runners at second and third in the second inning on singles by Oswaldo Arcia and Parmelee. No. 9 batter Pedro Florimon, hitless in his previous 18 at-bats, flied out to center with two away to end what proved to be Minnesota’s only threat of the game.
Notes: Rangers OF Alex Rios, hitless in his last 15 at-bats, was given a day off after playing all 126 games since being acquired last Aug. 9 from the Chicago White Sox … Texas LHP Derek Holland threw a 67-pitch simulated game on Saturday, but the club isn’t ready to start him on a rehab assignment. …Minnesota’s Sunday starter, Kyle Gibson, shut out Texas over six innings on May 28.
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