WASHINGTON – After getting pummeled by Washington in two straight games, the Texas Rangers were eager to stop the Nationals’ seemingly interminable parade around the bases.
Yu Darvish gave the Rangers just what they needed to avert a humbling sweep.
Darvish struck out 12 over eight innings, Leonys Martin broke open a scoreless duel with a homer in the seventh and Texas secured a 2-0 victory Sunday.
The Rangers won despite losing an apparent run in a rare double challenge on the same play. Managers Ron Washington of Texas and Matt Williams lodged separate complaints after a double steal in the first inning.
Pitching for the first time since May 22 after missing his last turn with a stiff neck, Darvish (5-2) gave up five hits and walked two in dropping his ERA to 2.08. The right-hander matched his season high in strikeouts and overpowered a club that won 9-2 on Friday and 10-2 Saturday.
“That team for two days just swung the bats at will, threw the ball around the ballpark, out of the ballpark,” Washington said. “We certainly needed to try to slow them down, and (Darvish) did that. He slowed them down. Yu was good today. He was very good. When the team needed him to be very good, he was.”
Joakim Soria worked a perfect ninth to earn his 11th save and seal Texas’ major league-leading 11th shutout.
Darvish struck out the side in the second and fanned two in each of the next three innings before encountering trouble in the sixth. One-out singles by Jayson Werth and Adam LaRoche put runners at first and third before Darvish struck out Wilson Ramos and retired Ian Desmond on a deep fly to right field.
Darvish yielded a two-out walk in the seventh and left after a 1-2-3 eighth.
“We just needed Yu to pitch well,” Washington said, “and he pitched well.”
Darvish was worried that neck stiffness might be a problem, but it obviously didn’t turn out to be an issue.
“Last night before I went to bed, I was very scared to wake up with a neck injury so I probably woke up 20 times,” he said through a translator. “But I didn’t have any pain when I woke up this morning.”
White Sox 4, Padres 1
In Chicago, Chris Sale pitched a two-hitter.
Indians 6, Rockies 4
In Cleveland, Michael Bourn’s two-run homer in the ninth inning gave the Indians a win over the Rockies.
Blue Jays 4, Royals 0
In Toronto, Mark Buehrle pitched eight sharp innings to become baseball’s first 10-game winner.
Norichika Aoki went 1-for-4 for the Royals.
Twins 7, Yankees 2
In New York, Phil Hughes pitched eight poised innings.
Ichiro Suzuki was hitless in two at-bats for the Yankees.
Red Sox 4, Rays 0
In Boston, Jon Lester pitched seven shutout innings and Brock Holt drove in two runs with one of his four doubles.
Orioles 9, Astros 4
In Houston, Manny Machado hit his first career grand slam.
Athletics 6, Angels 3
In Oakland, Jed Lowrie homered and drove in two runs.
Mariners 4, Tigers 0
In Seattle, rookie Roenis Elias pitched a three-hitter for the first complete game of his career.
Reds 4, Diamondbacks 3
In Phoenix, Chris Heisey hit a go-ahead homer in the fifth.
Pirates 5, Dodgers 3
In Los Angeles, slumping Andrew McCutchen hit his first home run in over a month.
Brewers 9, Cubs 0
In Milwaukee, Kyle Lohse allowed only three hits and Ryan Braun had a two-run homer.
Braves 4, Marlins 2
In Miami, Evan Gattis broke a ninth-inning tie with a two-run homer.
Mets 4, Phillies 3 (11)
In Philadelphia, Lucas Duda hit a two-run homer with two outs in the 11th.
Giants 8, Cardinals 0
In St. Louis, Tim Hudson threw seven shutout innings.