Tigers lose again to Darvish, Rangers
By STEPHEN HAWKINS
ARLINGTON, Texas (AP) Prince Fielder seems to have figured out Yu Darvish.
Still, the Detroit Tigers will have to wait awhile for another chance to beat the Japanese standout who's already won 10 games for the Texas Rangers.
Fielder drove in four runs, including a two-run double in the first inning and later a solo homer off Darvish, but the Tigers still lost 7-5 on Tuesday night.
"He's got a lot of stuff, mixes in a lot of pitches. He's someone you've got to battle with," said Quintin Berry, who had an RBI single in the fifth. "He has a good fastball, and he's sneaky with his delivery. He has a plethora of different pitches. ... We got a couple of runs early and felt good about it."
The Tigers lost to Darvish for the second time this season, facing him in his new home park this time. After the series finale Wednesday, Detroit doesn't play the Rangers again until returning in mid-August.
Darvish (10-4) is feeling right at home in Texas, where he's already done something only one other major league pitcher has accomplished in the past half-century - won his first seven career home starts. He matched teammate Matt Harrison and Tampa Bay lefty David Price for the most overall wins in the American League.
After giving up those two runs the first four batters, Darvish settled down and got into a nice groove. He struck out 10 in seven innings for his fourth double-digit strikeout game.
"It seemed like the longer the game went, the better he got," manager Ron Washington said. "He was trying to get rhythm again those first few innings. They put some runs on the board, but we came back and answered, and he continued to pound the strike zone. All of a sudden his fastball was crisper, his breaking ball was crisper."
The Rangers said, according to Elias, the only other pitcher in the past 50 years to win his first seven career home starts was Carlos Perez for the Montreal Expos - eight in 1995. Kenny Rogers is the only other pitcher to win seven consecutive starts at Rangers Ballpark at any point.
The only walk Darvish allowed was Austin Jackson's to start the game, though the big right-hander hit Miguel Cabrera in the left earflap of his helmet with a 92-mph fastball before Fielder's double quickly put the Tigers up 2-0.
Darvish threw 113 pitches on a night when the game-time temperature was 103 degrees, and finished strong. He retired the last seven batters he faced, striking out the last two.
"That's one of the top high-level lineups in the league and I was looking forward to facing these hitters," said Darvish, who didn't feel overwhelmed by the heat either. "My teammates still tell me it's not as hot as it's going to get. ... Even though it was hot, I didn't feel too uncomfortable."
Josh Hamilton later homered for the second night in a row, his leadoff shot in the seventh was his 24th of the season to match Toronto's Jose Bautista for the major league lead. Hamilton has a majors-best 67 RBIs.
In the fourth, when the temperature was still in triple digits, Fielder hit his 12th homer to make it 3-1.
"We did a decent job against Darvish. If you can get five runs off him you're doing pretty well," Tigers manager Jim Leyland said. "He has good secondary pitches. He looks like a breaking-ball pitcher."
Drew Smyly (2-3) was activated from the disabled list to start after being out since June 11 with a blister on his left middle finger. The lefty struck out three while allowing six runs and eight hits over 4 2-3 innings.
Ian Kinsler led off the Texas first with his first homer since June 8.
Adrian Beltre had a one-out infield single in the fourth, a dribbler in front of the plate that Smyly fielded before double-clutching and then throwing wide of first baseman Fielder for an error that allowed Beltre to go to second.
"If (Smyly) fields it clean, he's got him probably. He had a 3-1 lead but he got a little antsy after he threw the ball away," Leyland said. "Then he got a couple of pitches up that they didn't hit very well but they found a hole."
Michael Young followed with a triple to left-center. Nelson Cruz then had an RBI single, stole second and scored the tiebreaking on Torreabla's hit when he slid around catcher Alex Avila's swiping tag attempt and a bat to reach the plate.
Joe Nathan worked a perfect ninth for his 17th save in 18 chances. Mike Adams escaped trouble in the eighth, when the first two batters reached before deep fly balls by Cabrera and Delmon Young sandwiched an RBI grounder by Fielder.
Notes: Beltre is hitting .500 (22 of 44) in his past 12 games. ... Avila was back in the Tigers lineup after missing the series opener with tendinitis in his left knee. He had a double in the fifth and scored on Berry's single. ... Tigers closer Jose Valverde, who hadn't pitched since June 15 because of a sprained right wrist, pitched a perfect eighth. ... Mets knuckleballer R.A. Dickey is the only other pitcher in the majors with four 10-strikeout games.
Updated June 27, 2012