WASHINGTON (AP) — Yu Darvish struck out 12 over eight innings, Leonys Martin broke open a scoreless duel with a homer in the seventh and the Texas Rangers beat the Washington Nationals 2-0 Sunday to avert a three-game sweep.
The Rangers won despite losing an apparent run in a rare double challenge on the same play. Managers Ron Washington of Texas and Matt Williams lodged separate complaints after a double steal in the first inning.
Pitching for the first time since May 22 after missing his last turn with a stiff neck, Darvish (5-2) gave up five hits and walked two in dropping his ERA to 2.08. The right-hander matched his season high in strikeouts and overpowered a team that amassed 19 runs in the first two games of the series.
Joakim Soria worked a perfect ninth to earn his 11th save and seal Texas’ major league-leading 11th shutout.
Darvish struck out the side in the second and fanned two in each of the next three innings before encountering trouble in the sixth. One-out singles by Jayson Werth and Adam LaRoche put runners at first and third before Darvish struck out Wilson Ramos and retired Ian Desmond on a deep fly to right field.
One inning later, Martin hit an 0-1 pitch from Tanner Roark (3-4) into the Washington bullpen beyond the right-field wall. It was his third home run in 183 at-bats this season and ended the Rangers’ run of homerless games at six.
Roark allowed only one run and seven hits in seven innings but lost his third straight start.
Donnie Murphy added an RBI single off Drew Storen in the eighth. Murphy had a season-high three hits and was flawless in his first career game at first base.
In the first inning, both managers talked to the umpires. With two outs and runners on the corners, Elvis Andrus and Alex Rios executed a double steal. Rios was called out for coming off second base after the steal, but umpires ruled Andrus crossed the plate before the tag.
The Texas manager challenged the call at second and Williams insisted the out occurred before Andrus crossed the plate. After replays were reviewed over a span of 2 minutes, 45 seconds, Texas lost its challenge and the Nationals’ assertion was confirmed.
In the bottom half, Ramos looked at a third strike with two outs and runners at first and third. It was the first of five straight strikeouts for Darvish.
NOTES: Rangers LF Michael Choice was scratched from the starting lineup with a bruised left shin. … Both teams are off Monday. Washington hosts Philadelphia on Tuesday night and the Rangers face visiting Baltimore. … Denard Span got his eighth steal in the third inning, Washington’s 27th this season. Only five Nats have been caught stealing. … Texas finished its 11-game road trip with a 6-5 record and ended a four-game road losing streak against NL foes. … Washington fell to 4-26 when scoring fewer than four runs.