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KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) — Rangers manager Jeff Banister was reasonably happy with what Yu Darvish showed him in his third start since coming off the disabled list from a shoulder ailment.
If only Danny Duffy didn’t show off a little bit more.
Darvish allowed three runs, two earned, over six sharp innings Friday night, but Duffy trumped him by allowing only Rougned Odor’s homer in the Kansas City Royals’ 3-1 victory over Texas.
“Duffy’s got a big fastball with a quality changeup and breaking ball. He was really tough on us,” Banister said. “A quality start, a quality starter, he’s been doing that all year long.”
Darvish (2-2) is only now getting back to doing it — he missed the start of the year as he returned from Tommy John surgery, then got shelved with the shoulder problem.
But he nearly matched Duffy (6-1), allowing single runs in each of the first three innings. Darvish struck out 11 and made only one big mistake — Cheslor Cuthbert’s homer in the third.
“I had a really good bullpen session in between (starts),” Darvish said. “Early in the game, it was a little different feeling, but toward the end I was able to make an adjustment and I felt better.”
Still, it wasn’t good enough to keep the AL West-leading Rangers from losing for the eighth time in nine games. The slide has been marked by poor pitching, inconsistent hitting and a series of devastating injuries — sluggers Prince Fielder and Shin-Soo Choo went on the DL earlier this week.
Without them, the Rangers certainly struggled to create scoring chances Friday night.
Duffy carved through the lineup without allowing a hit the first time through, the only baserunner a walk to Elvis Andrus. He went on to load the bases on a single and hit batter in the third inning, but Duffy calmly struck out Ian Desmond on three pitches to leave them stranded.
His only other trouble came when he put runners on the corners with two outs in the seventh, forcing Luke Hochevar in from the bullpen. He got pinch-hitter Mitch Moreland on a liner to preserve a 3-1 lead.
They built it in typical Royals fashion: They scored a run in the first on a single, stolen base, error and groundout then scored again in the second on a walk, stolen base and consecutive singles.
It wasn’t until Cuthbert went deep leading off the third that they made Darvish look fallible.
“Darvish is a really good pitcher,” Royals manager Ned Yost said. “To scratch out two runs early is perfect situational baseball, to give us that lead early.”
The Rangers had one more scoring opportunity in the seventh, when Duffy put runners on the corners with two outs. Hochevar wiggled out of that jam, though, and Kelvin Herrera breezed through a perfect eighth before Wade Davis worked around a single in the ninth for his 21st save.
The victory, which came one day after the Royals (48-47) visited the White House to celebrate their World Series championship, kept them from dropping below .500 for the first time since May 17.
“I think being around the guys on an off day was a positive,” said Duffy, who was part of the troupe that visited President Barack Obama in the midst of a long homestand. “We got to do something not a lot of people get to do.”
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