Darvish ended his lengthy winless streak his last time out and will look to continue dominating the Astros on Saturday night.
Texas (50-36) won Friday's opener of this three-game set 10-5 and has not lost to Houston (31-56) since an 8-2 defeat March 31 in the Astros' first game as an AL club.
Darvish (8-3, 2.78 ERA) fell one out short of a perfect game in the next meeting, a 14-strikeout performance in a 7-0 victory April 2 that started the Rangers' run over the Astros. He followed that up by yielding three runs and three hits over seven innings to earn an 8-7 win over Houston on May 11.
The right-hander is limiting opponents to an AL-best .190 average, and Houston is hitting .078 against him this year. Darvish gave up two runs over eight innings of a 6-2 home win over Houston last June 15, and he's struck out 33 Astros in 23 2-3 career innings.
"We're comfortable now, I think, with the way he likes to pitch and the way he goes about attacking hitters," Castro told the team's official website. "We kind of learned and made some adjustments based on that first time we saw him."
Astros third baseman Matt Dominguez became the only player to homer twice against Darvish in one game in May.
Houston has struck out a major league-high 808 times, while Darvish leads baseball with 151.
Darvish had been 0-2 with a 2.93 ERA in seven starts before pitching 6 2-3 scoreless innings to earn a 3-2 victory over Cincinnati on Sunday. The Rangers had dropped his previous four outings.
"As a starter, if the team doesn't win the day that you pitch, that can be really frustrated, so that was my thing," Darvish said through his translator.
Cruz has a 12-game hitting streak against the Astros, going 17 for 50 (.340) with 16 RBIs. He's homered in the last three meetings.
The Astros outhit the Rangers 10-9 in the series opener but went 5 for 17 with runners in scoring position in their seventh loss in eight games.
"The effort and focus is definitely there," Astros manager Bo Porter said. "That goes without question with these guys. It's one of those things we've played good teams that have played well and we have not played our best baseball."
Texas is 16-10 against left-handed starters as it faces Dallas Keuchel (4-5, 4.65), who is 0-0 with a 2.45 ERA in two career starts versus the Rangers.
Cruz is the only Rangers player to homer against Keuchel, who owns a 3.03 road ERA compared to 5.62 at home.
|June 29, 2013||Justin Maxwell||7-Day DL||Mild concussion|
|June 25, 2013||Justin Maxwell||Day-to-Day||Mild concussion|
|June 21, 2013||Trevor Crowe||15-Day DL||Sprained AC joint in right shoulder|
|May 26, 2013||Edgar Gonzalez||15-Day DL||Strained right shoulder|
|May 21, 2013||Bud Norris||Day-to-Day||Left game - lower back spasms|
|May 13, 2013||Bud Norris||Day-to-Day||Left game - Back spasms|
|June 21, 2013||Craig Gentry||15-Day DL||Fractured left hand|
|June 13, 2013||Jeff Baker||15-Day DL||Sprained right thumb|
|June 07, 2013||Nelson Cruz||Day-to-Day||Hamstring|
|June 07, 2013||Michael Kirkman||60-Day DL||Cutaneous lymphoma in right triceps|
|June 06, 2013||Alexi Ogando||15-Day DL||Right shoulder inflammation|
|June 06, 2013||Mitch Moreland||15-Day DL||Strained right hamstring|
ARLINGTON, Texas (AP) -- Jason Castro already had a reason to celebrate after finding out he was headed to his first All-Star game.
The Houston Astros catcher added to the fun with the big hit in a win over Yu Darvish and the Texas Rangers .
Castro hit a tiebreaking three-run homer a few hours after becoming the first American League All-Star for the Astros, and Houston went on to beat the Rangers 9-5 on Saturday night.
The catcher's drive just to the right of the lawn in center field came off Robbie Ross in the seventh inning but made a loser of Darvish (8-4), who had a rough night after earning his second All-Star nod in two years in the majors.
"I grew up watching the All-Star game," Castro said. "One of the goals, along with winning the World Series, is playing in the All-Star game. It's still kind of surreal. It might not sink in until I get to New York."
The Astros built a 4-0 lead on a two-run homer by Brandon Barnes in the fourth and a two-run single from fellow rookie Marc Krauss an inning later.
"Looking at today's performance, I didn't perform like an All-Star," Darvish said. "It's unbelievable that I was being selected."
Geovany Soto pulled the Rangers even in the sixth, following Mitch Moreland 's sacrifice fly, with a three-run homer off Wesley Wright .
Travis Blackley (1-0) got the win with 1 1-3 innings of scoreless relief.
Darvish came out after walking Jose Altuve to start the seventh, and Brett Wallace was hit by a pitch from Ross. Castro, who had two hits and scored twice, followed with his 12th homer.
Wallace reached base all five times, adding two doubles and two walks.
"There was a feeling on the bench that we had put together some pretty good at-bats and that we could break through," said Castro, who also twice threw out Ian Kinsler trying to steal. "Darvish is a great pitcher. He's one of the best in baseball for a reason. We were trying to simplify and narrow down what we do at the plate."
Darvish, the major league strikeout leader, had six in six innings, but gave up six hits and a season-high five earned runs.
The Japanese right-hander, who came within an out of a perfect game in the second game of the season against the Astros, tied his season high with four walks. He has just one win in his past nine outings.
"Those guys are professionals and they could catch some pitches. Tonight they caught some," Rangers manager Ron Washington said. "They swung the bats well."
Houston lefty Dallas Keuchel took a shutout into the sixth but didn't get another out. He was replaced by right-hander Paul Clemens after singles by Elvis Andrus and Nelson Cruz , who was named an All-Star reserve. Cruz had three hits, including his 22nd homer.
Clemens got Adrian Beltre on a popout but walked Lance Berkman to load the bases. After Moreland ended the shutout, Soto hit his tying shot into the Houston bullpen in left-center field.
Krauss was 1-for-15 in his career before getting three straight singles. The first two - including his first run-scoring hit on a bases-loaded single - were off Darvish.
"I thought Krauss had tremendous at-bats," Astros manager Bo Porter said. "He really grinded it."
Jake Elmore had his first career homer for Houston, a two-run shot in the eighth.
Ross has given up three homers in his past five appearances after yielding three in 58 games last year.
"Just a little rut in the road I guess," Ross said. "Hopefully I can overcome it and work my way back."
Rangers prospect Jurickson Profar made his first pro start in left field as Washington tries to figure out ways to get him in the lineup. Profar had a diving catch, while fighting the sun, to save a run and end the second inning.
NOTES: Rangers RHP Joakim Soria could be activated Sunday. He is coming back from elbow reconstruction surgery and hasn't pitched in the majors since Sept. 11, 2011, with Kansas City. ... Rangers RHP Alexi Ogando gave up four hits and three runs in two innings in a rehab assignment with Triple-A Round Rock on Saturday night. He will make another start for Round Rock on Thursday. ... RHP Mark Appel, the No. 1 overall pick by the Astros, allowed three hits and two runs (one earned) in his professional debut for Class A Tri-City on Friday. ... The Rangers had a 30-minute pregame ceremony to honor first-responders and residents of West, Texas, where 15 people died in an explosion at a fertilizer plant in April.