ARLINGTON, Texas (AP) — Texas Rangers ace Yu Darvish pumped his fist coming off the mound after the last of his 127 pitches, ending the seventh inning with his 14th strikeout against Boston.
“Unbelievable, unbelievable,” Adrian Beltre said. “He was incredible. He’s been doing it all year.”
Darvish matched his career high for strikeouts before leaving a tie game, and Beltre had an RBI single with two outs in the ninth inning as the Rangers won 4-3 Sunday, completing a three-game sweep and matching the Red Sox for the best record in the majors.
Beltre reached down and out over the plate to line a hit to right-center off Clayton Mortensen (0-2). That sent home Elvis Andrus, who had reached on a two-out bloop single and moved up on a wild pitch before the Red Sox opted to intentionally walk Lance Berkman and bring Beltre to the plate.
“We showed a lot of heart right there,” Andrus said. “That shows for us how good we are right now.”
The Rangers, Red Sox and St. Louis all have 20-11 marks. Boston has its first three-game losing streak this season.
While Darvish had 14 strikeouts for the second time this season, the right-hander from Japan allowed multiple homers in a game for only the second time in his 36 starts for the Rangers. David Ortiz and David Ross homered in the first two innings.
“After I gave up those runs, I told myself I was only a couple of runs behind. I was trying to stay focused and not dwell on what had happened,” Darvish said through his translator.
Rangers closer Joe Nathan (1-0), the third reliever, worked around a walk and a hit in the ninth.
The game was 3-3 when Darvish threw the last of 78 strikes among a career-high pitches thrown, denying him a chance at his sixth victory to equal the most in the majors. He did up his majors-best strikeout total to 72, and was still throwing in the mid-90s before punctuating his exit with consecutive strikeouts with a runner on base.
Darvish was already at 105 pitches after striking out Dustin Pedroia, Ortiz and Mike Napoli in order in the sixth inning. But there was still nobody warming up in the Texas bullpen at that point.
“He’ll get pushed, today was one of those days,” manager Ron Washington said. “He gave us 120-something pitches, because we needed it out of him, and he was able to give it to us. … You had two of the best pitchers in the game out there. I don’t know what Darvish would have done to me if I would have taken him out of the game.”
Red Sox left-handed starter Jon Lester, with a 4-0 record, also got a no decision after seven strikeouts in six innings. Like Darvish, he was hurt by two home runs.
“I felt good. I felt like I had good stuff, I just made two mistakes,” said Lester, who was impressed by Darvish. “It’s been a while since we’ve seen him. You can tell he feels a lot more comfortable.”
The Rangers got on the board in the third on Mitch Moreland’s fourth homer, an opposite-field shot that landed only a couple of rows into the left-field seats — and just inside the pole.
Nelson Cruz hit his seventh homer, a two-run shot to center after Beltre’s single, to tie the game in the sixth.
Darvish’s other 14-strikeout game for Darvish came in his first start this season, when he retired the first 26 Houston batters and was within one out of a perfect game before giving up a single April 2. The last time an American League pitcher had multiple 14-K games in a season was 2000, when Pedro Martinez had three and Mike Mussina two.
After going his first 37 2-3 innings this season without giving up a long ball, Darvish gave up homers in three consecutive innings. He allowed a homer in his final frame against the Chicago White Sox his previous start Tuesday night.
Ortiz extended the longest hitting streak in the majors to 25 games, including all 13 of his games this season for Boston, when he pulled a pitch deep into the right-field stands for a two-run shot in the first. An inning later, Ross homered on hanging breaking ball over the middle of the plate.
“Not many people are as good as I am,” Ross said, with a chuckle. “I just close my eyes and swing hard. That’s my approach.”
NOTES: Ortiz is hitting .440 since his late debut this season because of an injured right Achilles that also limited him to 90 games last year, and has an extra-base hit in 11 of his last 12 games. … Four of Ross’ nine hits this year are homers. … Leadoff hitter Jacoby Ellsbury was the only Red Sox player without a strikeout against Darvish. … Pedroia snapped an 0-for-14 slide in the first with an two-out infield single on a dribbler down the third base line that Darvish fielded before Ortiz homered. … Ortiz’s 25-game hitting streak is the longest for the Red Sox since Pedroia’s 25-gamer from June 29-July 28, 2011.