Yu Darvish continues strong stretch

ARLINGTON, Texas -- Yu Darvish has likely made his last start of the regular season. Will his next one be a playoff opener?

The 26-year-old rookie continued his impressive late-season charge Sunday, pitching well enough to win the game. The Rangers gave up the lead in the ninth, meaning Darvish got a no-decision. But his performance was his eighth straight quality start and showed once again that he's primed and ready for the postseason.

Darvish gave up three runs on nine hits in 6 2/3 innings with seven strikeouts and one walk. The outing did end four straight starts of seven or more innings and four or fewer hits. But he kept his team in the game and left with the lead.

"I didn't feel that sharp today, but I thought I did the best I could to give the team a chance to win," Darvish said through interpreter Joe Furukawa.

Darvish didn't feel like the Angels' approach was any different and that he did have some unfortunate balls that dropped in for hits, but weren't hit hard. The stiff neck that prevented Darvish from making his last start was not an issue.

"My neck felt fine," Darvish said. "No discomfort whatsoever. Three days ago I couldn't play catch at all, so the preparation was a little different from my regular routine. Under the circumstance, I thought I pitched OK."

Darvish gave up runs in the third, sixth and seventh innings. He exited the game with two outs in the seventh after Mike Trout homered and Torii Hunter doubled. Alexi Ogando came in and finished the inning off.

Darvish will now prepare for what he hopes is a playoff game next weekend in the ALDS. The Rangers still have some work to do to get there. And Darvish says he'll be cheering and doing whatever he can to help.