ST. PETERSBURG, FLORIDA – Yu Darvish showed no rust after missing three weeks.
Darvish allowed seven hits over seven innings in his season debut, Elvis Andrus hit a two-run homer, and the Texas Rangers avoided a three-game sweep by beating the Tampa Bay Rays 3-0 on Sunday.
“He was in control of the game,” Rangers manager Ron Washington said. “He was using his pitches. He was throwing strikes. And that’s what he does.”
Darvish (1-0) struck out six and walked one. Sidelined by neck stiffness, it was his first outing since a spring training game on March 16.
“I didn’t feel anything unusual,” Darvish said through an interpreter.
With his second straight strikeout in the first inning coming against Wil Myers, Darvish posted his 500th career strikeout, making him the fastest to reach the benchmark in the major leagues as a starting pitcher in just 401⅔ innings. Five of Darvish’s six strikeouts required only three pitches.
Kerry Wood was the previous record holder, accomplishing the feat in 404⅔ innings.
“I guess I outdid myself,” said Darvish, who threw 89 pitches and escaped a jam following a leadoff double in the seventh. “It was great that I was able to pitch seven even though I had been out this long. I tried to stay loose (in jams) and just focus on location. I wasn’t concerned if I would’ve given up a run.
“My style is to get ahead in the count and go for batters. That’s what happened today.”
Andrus put the Rangers up 2-0 with his homer off Joel Peralta (0-1) in the eighth. Donnie Murphy made it 3-0 on an RBI infield hit during the ninth.
Neal Cotts replaced Alexi Ogando for the Rangers with two on and two outs in the eighth, and struck out Matt Joyce on a 3-2 pitch. Joakim Soria pitched the ninth for his first save.
Alex Cobb scattered three hits, walked one and struck out six in seven shutout innings for the Rays.
“Unfortunately for us, he was really on,” Cobb said of Darvish.
Only one runner reached second against Cobb.
“He didn’t give up any pitches,” Andrus said. “I thought he was painting the whole game. I’m really glad that we had Yu out there. He was doing the same thing for us.”
The Rays were hitless in 10 at-bats with runners in scoring position against Darvish, and 0-for-11 overall.
“As usual, you’ve got a team over there that fights forever,” Washington said. “They put themselves in some good positions to score some runs, but Yu made the pitches when he had to.”
Orioles 3, Tigers 1
In Detroit, Chris Tillman outpitched Justin Verlander, allowing one run while working into the ninth.
Baltimore won for the first time since its opener against baseball’s last undefeated team.
Yankees 6, Blue Jays 4
In Toronto, CC Sabathia pitched six innings for his first victory of the season and Brett Gardner hit a two-run home run for the New York.
Sabathia (1-1) allowed four runs and seven hits, walked none and struck out six.
Twins 10, Indians 7
In Cleveland, Chris Colabello drove in four runs, Brian Dozier scored three times and Minnesota outslugged the Indians.
Astros 7, Angels 4
In Houston, Scott Feldman threw seven strong innings, five Astros homered, and Houston snapped a three-game losing streak.
White Sox 5, Royals 1
In Kansas City, Chris Sale gave up four singles in eight scoreless innings for Chicago.
Sale struck out six and walked one.
Athletics 6, Mariners 3
In Oakland, Jim Johnson struck out two and closed it out after losing back-to-back outings to begin with his new team, saving the A’s’ victory.
Brandon Moss hit a three-run homer, Yoenis Cespedes connected in the eighth and Josh Donaldson beat out an infield single in the fifth to drive in the go-ahead run.
Brewers 4, Red Sox 0
In Boston, Yovani Gallardo made his second straight scoreless start and Milwaukee completed a three-game sweep.
The World Series champion Red Sox, who never had a losing record last year, fell to 2-4 and matched their longest skid of 2013.
Nationals 2, Braves 1
In Washington, Ian Desmond led off the seventh inning with a home run — the only run of the game scored on a hit — and the Nationals and their makeshift lineup avoided a sweep.
Desmond ripped a down-the-middle fastball from Alex Wood (1-1) well into the left field bleachers, the Nationals’ first hit since the first inning. But it was enough to win on a day when four Washington pitchers combined to allow eight hits.
Pirates 2, Cardinals 1
In Pittsburgh, Tony Sanchez hit a tiebreaking RBI double in the seventh inning.
Sanchez’s double to deep center field with two outs came off Cardinals ace Adam Wainwright (1-1) and snapped a 1-1 tie.
Padres 4, Marlins 2
In Miami, pinch hitter Alexi Amarista celebrated his 25th birthday by delivering a go-ahead, three-run homer in the seventh inning to lift San Diego.
Reds 2, Mets 1
In New York, Alfredo Simon pitched seven impressive innings in his first start in more than two years and began the go-ahead rally with his second career hit.
Diamondbacks 5, Rockies 3
In Denver, Mark Trumbo homered for the fourth straight game as Arizona averted a sweep.
Cubs 8, Phillies 3
In Chicago, Ryan Kalish hit a two-run double and an RBI triple and the Cubs avoided a sweep.
Dodgers 6, Giants 2
In Los Angeles, Matt Kemp hit his first two home runs at Dodger Stadium since late in 2012 and Hanley Ramirez slugged his first two homers this season.