The Texas Rangers didn't make any headlines as the non-waiver trade deadline passed, but the drama on the field continued with another late-inning victory.
Texas (59-49) had lost 12 of its last 15 and had been shut out three times during a four-game losing streak entering their series with the Los Angeles Angels on Monday.
The Rangers ended their skid on Geovany Soto 's ninth-inning, two-run homer for a 4-3 victory in the opener, won 14-11 when Leonys Martin hit a three-run shot in the 10th on Tuesday and completed the sweep with a 2-1 victory Wednesday as Adrian Beltre hit a walkoff homer in the ninth.
Texas became the first team to sweep a three-game series with all game-ending homers since the 1999 Diamondbacks did it against the Montreal Expos from May 10-12, 1999."Our offense has been the reason why we struggled the last few weeks, and our offense is getting a lot better," Beltre said.
Combined with Oakland's 5-2, 10-inning loss to Toronto, the Rangers pulled to within four games of the AL West lead. Still, general manager Jon Daniels elected not to make any trades as the deadline passed Wednesday afternoon.
There was speculation Texas would seek an outfielder to replace Nelson Cruz in case he's suspended for his connection to the Biogenesis scandal, but Cruz was in the lineup Wednesday and hit his team-best 25th homer."All I know is what you guys know," manager Ron Washington said of Cruz's situation.
Darvish (9-5, 2.80 ERA) will try to help Texas stay hot as he looks for a third straight impressive start since coming off the disabled list with an upper back strain.
He allowed two hits in 6 1-3 innings of a 3-0 win over the New York Yankees on July 22 before giving up one run and three hits while striking out 11 in six frames of a 1-0 loss to Cleveland on Saturday.
The run Darvish allowed came on a homer to the first batter he faced."Things like this are just part of the game," Darvish said through an interpreter. "Some games pitchers don't perform their best, and some games hitters don't perform their best."
After having a 9.05 run-support average though his first nine starts, Darvish's RSA is just 2.54 over his last 11. He's 2-4 in that current stretch despite positing a 2.66 ERA.
The right-hander tied a career high with 14 strikeouts against Arizona on May 27, but he allowed a tying two-run homer to Didi Gregorius in the bottom of the eighth and the Diamondbacks rallied for a 5-4 win.
Arizona (55-52) made a bold move at the deadline, dealing pitcher Ian Kennedy to San Diego for left-handed reliever Joe Thatcher , a minor leaguer and a draft pick. That trade is part of the reason Zeke Spruill will be making his first major league start Thursday.
Spruill (0-0, 2.08) pitched 4 1-3 innings of relief over four appearances in a brief call-up in June. The right-hander, though, hasn't allowed an earned run in 31 2-3 consecutive innings while going 3-0 over his last five starts for Triple-A Reno.
"We were struggling offensively," Chavez said. "It was nice to get that one, for sure."
Goldschmidt is 4 for 27 over his last seven games, with three of those hits leaving the park.
This contest is a makeup for the May 28 rainout. Arizona has won two of the previous three meetings.
|July 26, 2013||Aaron Hill||Day-to-Day||Hamstring tightness|
|July 09, 2013||Eric Chavez||Day-to-Day||Stiff right hip|
|July 01, 2013||Trevor Cahill||15-Day DL||Right hip contusion|
|June 28, 2013||Willie Bloomquist||15-Day DL||Left hand contusion|
|June 10, 2013||Matt Reynolds||15-Day DL||Strained left elbow|
|May 31, 2013||Brandon McCarthy||15-Day DL||Right shoulder inflammation|
|July 12, 2013||Justin Grimm||Day-to-Day||Left game - sore right forearm|
|July 07, 2013||Lance Berkman||15-Day DL||Left hip inflammation|
|July 07, 2013||Yu Darvish||15-Day DL||Upper back strain|
|July 07, 2013||Yu Darvish||15-Day DL||Upper back strain|
|July 06, 2013||Nick Tepesch||15-Day DL||Right elbow inflammation|
|June 21, 2013||Craig Gentry||15-Day DL||Fractured left hand|
ARLINGTON, Texas (AP) -- Inconsistency was the key for Yu Darvish .
With a devastating slider going in different directions and command of his fastball, Darvish matched his major-league high with 14 strikeouts and the Texas Rangers won their fourth game in a row, 7-1 over the Arizona Diamondbacks in a makeup game Thursday night.
"Some of (the sliders) were dropping down, some of them were going sideways," Darvish said through an interpreter. "The movement on my slider was really inconsistent and that worked in my favor."
Darvish (10-5) certainly had the Diamondbacks hitters baffled, 78 of his 111 pitches were thrown for strikes over seven scoreless innings. He had no walks and scattered five hits in his 50th major league start.
"As a hitter you have a lot of different thought processes in the box," Arizona's Adam Eaton said. "When you hit your spots and you have that many pitches, it's tough as a hitter to put the ball in play and get good swings on the ball."
Darvish also had 14 strikeouts when he faced the Diamondbacks just more than two months ago. But they managed to score four runs over 7 2-3 innings that night and won with a run in the ninth.
A.J. Pierzynski, Mitch Moreland and David Murphy all homered off Zeke Spruill (0-1), who went four innings in his first major league start. Pierzynski later added a two-run single.
Those homers were all hit early for the Rangers, who came off a three-game sweep of the Los Angeles Angels with game-ending homers in each. They had been shut out in three of the four games before the short homestand, and will now play 10 in a row on the road.
"Our offense has woken up, and the key is to just keep going," Rangers manager Ron Washington said. "We knew it was in there, it was just a matter of it coming out, and we're playing as a group."
Darvish struck out 10 of his first 13 batters, marking the 16th time since he joined the Rangers from Japan last season that he fanned at least 10. Dwight Gooden with 20 is the only other pitcher since 1900 with more in his first 50 starts.
"He was as good as I've seen him all year, counting the almost perfect game he threw the first start of the year. His stuff was just nasty," said Pierzynski, also the catcher when Darvish retired the first 26 batters at Houston four months ago. "He was throwing fastballs to the corners, he had a really good split, and obviously he always has a slider.
"He just kept mixing it up, and the strikeouts just kept coming and coming. Nights like that are fun."
It was the fourth game this season Darvish reached 14 strikeouts - there are only two other 14-K games in the majors this season. It is the most 14-strikeout games in one season for the Rangers, surpassing Hall of Fame pitcher Nolan Ryan 's three in 1990. Over seven seasons in Japan, Darvish had 15 strikeouts three times.
The only Arizona starter who didn't strike out was Cody Ross . Leadoff hitter Gerardo Parra , who had a 10-game interleague hitting streak, and All-Star first baseman Paul Goldschmidt both struck out three times against Darvish.
"He was using all his pitches, pounding the strike zone," Washington said. "Everything he threw up there, they just couldn't get on."
The Diamondbacks scored their only run in the ninth inning on Martin Prado 's RBI single.
Arizona had to make a side trip to Texas, on the way from Tampa Bay to Boston, to make up the game postponed on May 29 because of unplayable field conditions. A severe thunderstorm hit the area about an hour before that scheduled game, and the grounds crew struggled to get the tarp on the field.
For the makeup, it was 101 degrees when the game started and still in the upper 90s at the end.
Texas right fielder Nelson Cruz is among 14 players targeted for discipline by Major League Baseball because of their relationship to a closed Florida anti-aging clinic accused of distributing banned performance-enhancing drugs. The All-Star was lifted for a pinch-hitter in the seventh because of tightness in his left quad.
Depending on the timing and length of any possible suspension, which could be announced this weekend, it could have been the last home game this season for Cruz. He leads the Rangers with 25 home runs and 73 RBIs and is eligible for free agency after the season.
Notes: Rangers SS Elvis Andrus extended the majors longest active hitting streak to 14 with a double in the seventh. ... According to STATS, Darvish was the sixth pitcher since 1974 to have 10 strikeouts in the first 13 batters. The last was Ricky Nolasco for Florida on Sept. 30, 2009. ... The announced attendance was 41,569, but a lot of those purchased tickets went unused.