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TEX@TOR: Darvish fans nine, allows one run in seven

TORONTO -- The more he gets to know Yu Darvish, the more impressed Rangers manager Ron Washington becomes.

Monday was no exception as Darvish became the franchise's first pitcher to win four of his first five starts, pitching the Rangers to a 4-1 victory over the Blue Jays at Rogers Centre.

Pitching from the stretch, Darvish (4-0) held Toronto to four hits and one run while striking out nine over seven innings. He lowered his ERA to 2.18.

But he realizes that it is early. And while he is making the adjustment from Japan to the Major Leagues, he understands that the teams he is facing are adjusting as well.

"I'm very aware that all these hitters on the teams that are facing me, they are seeing me for the first time," Darvish said through a translator. "It's only April. So I'm not thinking about how I did this month. Right now all I'm thinking about is preparing well for the next one."

The only run Darvish allowed came on the first Major League home run he has served up, to hot-hitting Edwin Encarnacion in the fourth inning. Darvish had pitched 29 2/3 innings without allowing a home run.

"The guy's got good stuff and you haven't seen him before. There's a huge advantage to the pitcher there," Blue Jays second baseman Kelly Johnson said. "But he had good stuff. He's been doing well, he was throwing lots of pitches for strikes, mixing it up. [We] definitely had a hard time just sitting on something. He did his job."

That's all Washington wants.

"I don't expect him to go 32-0," Washington said. "But the thing about him, he will keep us in ballgames."

The Rangers gave him all the support he needed with homers by Mitch Moreland and Craig Gentry in the seventh inning against left-handed reliever Evan Crawford before a crowd of 21,945. It was the third time this season that the Rangers have hit back-to-back home runs.

The home runs coming from the bottom of the order was not lost on Washington.

"I certainly love it when that happens," Washington said. "You don't have to rely on the middle of the order. It gave us some cushion."

Toronto starter Kyle Drabek (2-2) was good as well, limiting a strong offensive team to five hits and two runs while striking out eight.

"People wanted [Darvish] for a reason," Drabek said. "He's a great pitcher, he's got good stuff. So he did a good job tonight."

Washington said the 97 pitches made by Darvish did not have as much to do with him being removed after seven innings as it was the stress of pitching with a one-run lead and with runners on base.

"He had done his job to that point," Washington said. "That was a real stressful game right there, playing a one-run game almost the whole way. He had done his job. We didn't need to push it any further. That's why we have those guys in the bullpen."

The Rangers went down in order in the first inning with two strikeouts, but took a 1-0 lead in the second on doubles by Adrian Beltre and Nelson Cruz.

Darvish walked Adam Lind to start the second and then hit Encarnacion with a pitch. But Darvish retired the next three batters, two on strikeouts.

"He had good stuff. It was electric, it really was," Washington said. "Once again, the most impressive thing about him is that when he had people on the bags, he made pitches. That's what good pitchers do."

The Rangers added a run in the third. Ian Kinsler walked and scored his 24th run on a double by Elvis Andrus. The 24 runs are a club record for April.

The Blue Jays got a run back in the bottom of the fourth on the eighth home run of the season by Encarnacion, the fourth game in a row in which he has homered.

Monday's start followed Darvish's effort on April 24, when he held the New York Yankees scoreless on seven hits over 8 1/3 innings while striking out 10.

"Every game is different," Washington said. "The hitters in the Toronto lineup are totally different than the hitters in the Yankees lineup. He executed pitches. He got them in situations where, I mean, from my perspective his arm action was consistent on every single pitch he threw whether it was a changeup, whether it was a slider, split, fastball, it didn't matter. That's tough when your arm action is that consistent."

If Washington says watching Darvish has been a learning experience, Darvish also has been learning.

"The biggest thing is just getting used to the atmosphere of being in the Major Leagues," Darvish said

But he has a lot to work with.

"Baseball is general," Washington said. "It's played the same no matter where you are. He was a star in Japan and the stuff he had in Japan, it parlays over here. It just tells you that in the 4-0 start." Comments