Darvish lets his fastball do the talking

ARLINGTON, Texas -- Know that every fastball Yu Darvish threw on Sunday -- and there were a lot -- came with a message and a purpose.

The gist? Stop questioning him.

"I just wanted to shut up all the people who were talking about my fastball," Darvish said through an interpreter in his postgame news conference.

Darvish went with his fastball early and often Sunday afternoon and won for the first time in eight starts as the Texas Rangers beat the Cincinnati Reds 3-2.

An unscientific count shows that 84 of Darvish's 117 pitches thrown were fastballs and cutters. He mixed in his slider, splitter and curveball when needed.

But Sunday was all about the fastball. And Darvish produced 6 2/3 innings of scoreless baseball, picking up his first win since May 16 against Justin Verlander and the Detroit Tigers. He had eight strikeouts and four walks.

He was in a good mood afterward, and talked seriously about why his fastball was working.

"I had really good control and a lot of power so overall it was pretty good," Darvish said.

Darvish went with a high percentage of fastballs in the first two innings. Then came the third inning. He threw 21 pitches to five batters, none of them off-speed pitches.

He had a one-out walk to Shin-Soo Choo, who was a tough out all series, and allowed a two-out single to Reds slugger Joey Votto. Darvish then struck out cleanup hitter Brandon Phillips to end the threat.

"Today was as good as he's been all season," catcher Geovany Soto said. "He was pumping in the fastballs."

Darvish had to be good with Reds ace Mat Latos matching him with zeroes until the fifth inning, when the Rangers played small ball to take a 2-0 lead. They had two bunts in the inning, one by rookie Engel Beltre to start the inning, and a suicide squeeze by Elvis Andrus that scored two runs when Latos made a wild throw home, allowing Beltre and Leonys Martin to score.

Darvish guarded the lead, pitching into the seventh inning. He did have a two-out walk to No. 9 hitter Derrick Robinson, putting him at 117 pitches and forcing manager Ron Washington to take him out of the game.

Washington said after the game that it was vintage Darvish.

"That's what pitchers do," Washington said. "He wanted to keep hitters off-balance and he did. He mixed up his pitches. That's what he did today."

The Rangers' bullpen was able to hold the lead -- despite struggles for setup man Tanner Scheppers -- as Darvish finally won his eighth game.

He admitted after the game that finally getting a victory ended weeks of frustration.

"As a starter if the team doesn't win on the day you pitch, it can be really frustrating," Darvish said. "That was my thing."

And his thing Sunday was his fastball.