|Oakland Athletics pitcher Brian Fuentes walks to the dugout after being relieved in the seventh inning of a baseball game against the Texas Rangers, Saturday, June 30, 2012, in Arlington, Texas. The Rangers won the game 7-2. (AP Photo/Tim Sharp)|
Darvish 11 Ks in first home loss, 3-1 to Oakland
ARLINGTON, Texas—Yu Darvish threw a wild pitch that allowed the tiebreaking run and lost at home for the first time with the Texas Rangers, a 3-1 defeat against Oakland despite the Japanese ace's 11 strikeouts in seven innings Sunday night.
Brandon Moss homered for Oakland and left-hander Travis Blackley (2-2) picked off two runners while holding a Texas lineup filled with All-Stars to one run over seven innings.
The fifth 10-strikeout game for Darvish (10-5) matched NL All-Star pitcher R.A. Dickey for the most in the majors this year. The 11 Ks equaled his season high.
Though Darvish was left off the initial AL All-Star roster announced earlier Sunday that included seven Rangers, the right-hander is one of five pitchers who are candidates for the final spot that will be determined by fans voting online through Thursday.
Darvish had won his first seven career home starts, only the second major leaguer in the last half-century to do that.
Blackley, claimed off waivers in mid-May after San Francisco designated him for assignment, struck out three with no walks. The lefty is 2-0 with a 1.93 ERA his last four starts for the A's.
Ryan Cook, Oakland's only All-Star pick, worked a perfect ninth for his seventh save in 10 chances.
Texas (50-30), still with the best record in the majors, had its five-game winning streak snapped. The Rangers have won seven consecutive series after winning the first three games against Oakland.
After Darvish got his 10th strikeout in the sixth, and before his 11th to end the inning, Yoenis Cespedes doubled down the right-field line before a wild pitch on a strange play that put Oakland up 2-1.
The speedy Jemile Weeks, who reached on a fielder's choice, stopped at third. But Darvish threw a pitch that bounced under the feet of a hopping batter Seth Smith and the mitt of catcher Yorvit Torrealba then bounced off umpire Manny Gonzalez and in front of the plate.
Weeks slid home safely while Darvish unsuccessfully tried to scoop the ball with his glove toward the plate.
Moss hit the first pitch of the seventh into the second deck of seats in right field, his eighth homer making it 3-1.
Oakland was the first team Darvish has faced three times, and has lost the last two against the AL West rival.
In the Texas sixth, No. 9 hitter Craig Gentry led off with a drive to straightaway center that bounced off the wall and then the foot of Cespedes. The ball went over the wall and umpires ruled it a double even though Gentry got to third.
Blackley got out of that inning retiring All-Star selections Ian Kinsler, Elvis Andrus and Josh Hamilton on popups.
Hamilton, Adrian Beltre and Mike Napoli, the three Rangers selected by the fans as All-Star starters, were a combined 0-for-9 against Blackley.
Andrus extended his hitting streak to nine games with a first-inning single, but was picked off by Blackley. Torrealba got picked off after a leadoff single in the third.
Texas got its only run in the third when Kinsler had a two-out double and scored on a single by Andrus.
Hamilton's bat shattered on his swing leading off the fourth, and the splintered portion helicoptered toward right field. It landed just to the left of second baseman Weeks, who understandably bobbled the ball briefly before throwing to first for the out.
Notes: Darvish had strikeouts in 14 consecutive innings, the longest streak for a Texas pitcher since 2003, until not having one in the seventh. ... It was Nolan Ryan Snow Monkey Day at Rangers Ballpark, with 10,000 stuffed snow monkeys given to kids 13 and under. The promotion had ties to Ryan's time on the Texas Parks and Wildlife Commission from 1995-2001, and a hilarious 2008 radio interview that can be found on the Internet in which the Hall of Fame pitcher talks about being the "Unofficial Snow Monkey Ambassador" when the animals were running wild in South Texas. ... Rangers RF Nelson Cruz, playing on his 32nd birthday, had two hits and a sliding catch in the second inning.