Darvish stops another losing streak

ARLINGTON, Texas -- Yu Darvish has three wins this season, all after Rangers losses.

That's an ace, right?

It's exactly what the Rangers needed Friday night from Darvish, who dominated in a 7-0 victory over Seattle just hours after the club found out that Opening Day starter Matt Harrison is out until the All-Star break at best.

That puts extra pressure on Darvish, even if he said it's on all of the starters while Harrison is out. The Rangers suffered a lackluster 6-2 loss to the Chicago Cubs on Thursday. They have rookie starters Nick Tepesch and Justin Grimm going on Saturday and Sunday.

Faced with that uncertainty, Darvish came up big Friday night. He allowed three hits and had 10 strikeouts in seven strong innings. It's the first time he's gone past the fifth inning since his near-perfect game in Houston on April 2.

"You never want to get a losing streak," Rangers catcher A.J. Pierzynski said. "You always want to end it after one loss. He did that in Houston. He's done that a few times for us. He has the ability to because he has all the pitches and everything going for him. It's good to have a guy like that, but [Derek] Holland's capable of that. [Alexi] Ogando is. All of our guys are capable of it."

Darvish has been the most reliable starter this season. He's followed up half the Rangers' losses with victories. He was asked after the game if he was aware of when he has the opportunity to stop a losing streak. Does it give him extra focus?

"I try to win every game and give my team a chance to win every game," Darvish said. "It's not like I'm going to be starting every game. All of the starters have to do their jobs. Whenever Harrison comes back, I hope he's back to his normal pitching style."

On Friday night, Darvish didn't have command of his fastball in the first two innings, and it helped him more than it hurt him. He got all six of his outs on strikeouts as his cutter was darting down early on.

He didn't have a great feel for his fastball as he walked two in the first two innings, but his command improved as he pitched deeper into the game.

Darvish had three ground ball outs in the sixth inning. He used his two-seam fastball to get strikeouts and a ground out in the sixth inning. He also used his changeup and curveball to keep the ball on the ground in the inning. Darvish was most proud of a sinker he threw to get slugger Michael Morse on a ground ball to third base for the last out of the inning.

"I was able to throw my two-seam fastball for ground balls," Darvish said. "It was a positive outing."