Originally posted on FOX Sports  |  Last updated 8/12/13
Yu Darvish was nearly perfect against the Astros once again, taking a no-hit bid into the eighth inning and striking out a career-high 15 to lead the Texas Rangers over Houston 2-1 Monday for their eighth straight win. Darvish dominated the Astros until Carlos Corporan lined a home run into the right-field seats with one out in the eighth for Houston's only hit. Outfielder Alex Rios chased Corporan's drive to the wall, but had to watch as it sailed about five rows into the stands. Darvish simply looked around, then wiped his brow with his arm before preparing to throw his next pitch. Until the homer, Houston's lone runner came when rookie Jonathan Villar drew a two-out walk in the sixth. A pitch before the walk, Texas catcher A.J. Pierzynski was ejected for arguing with plate umpire Ron Kulpa on a breaking ball he called low. In early April, Darvish (12-5) was one out away from a perfect game at Minute Maid Park before Marwin Gonzalez singled between his legs. This time, the two-time All-Star ace from Japan was equally sharp. Darvish retired the last two batters in eighth and exited, having increased his major league-leading strikeout total to 207. Darvish struck out 14 in four prior games this years, including his earlier gem at Houston. Joe Nathan pitched a perfect ninth for his 35th save. The AL West-leading Rangers took a quick lead over the last-place Astros. With two outs in the first, Ian Kinsler and Adrian Beltre doubled and Pierzynski hit an RBI single off Brett Oberholtzer (2-1). Oberholtzer yielded seven hits and two runs with six strikeouts in 6 2-3 innings for his first loss in three major league starts. The Houston hitters had no such luck with Darvish. Darvish was strong from the start relying mostly on a four-seam fastball, sliders and a cutter against the Astros' inexperienced lineup. He struck out the side in the first inning before getting two fly outs and a ground out in the second. The 26-year-old righty fanned two each in the third and fourth innings, struck out the side in the fifth and the first batter of the sixth inning. His strikeout of Chris Carter to start the fifth was his 200th of the season, giving him a team record for fewest games (23) needed to reach the mark. In the sixth, Darvish started walking off the mound after his close pitch to Villar. Pierzynski also began heading to the dugout, but Kulpa said it missed. Pierzynski didn't like the call, started yelling in Kulpa's face and was quickly tossed. Geovany Soto took at catcher and Darvish walked Villar on a full count. Darvish, a two-time MVP in Japan, flirted with perfection last Sept. 3, too, retiring the first 17 batters at Kansas City. NOTES: Darvish set rookie franchise records for wins (16) and strikeouts (221) last season. He finished third in AL Rookie of the Year voting behind winner Mike Trout and Oakland outfielder Yoenis Cespedes.
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