ARLINGTON, Texas -- A long layoff didn't seem to have any effect on Yu Darvish.
The Texas Rangers ace and three relievers combined to shut out the New York Yankees 3-0 Monday night in the opener of a four-game series at Rangers Ballpark.
Darvish (9-4) worked 6 1/3 innings and allowed just two hits, the first coming in the fifth against a struggling Yankees' offense. He was pitching for the first time in 15 days after sitting out due to a strained back muscle.
"I was able to locate my fastball for strikes, especially early in counts, and then able to throw all my pitches," Darvish said through his interpreter. "I think it went smoothly."
The Rangers (55-44) are trying to get back on track after falling three games behind the AL West-leading Oakland A's thanks to a 1-7 stretch.
"We got terrific pitching, timely hitting and ran the bases the way we're capable of running the bases, and the defense was crisp," Texas manager Ron Washington said.
New York, in fourth place in the Al East, dropped to 52-47 after its fourth loss in the past five games. The Yankees are a season-high seven games out of first.
Ivan Nova (4-3) didn't pitch poorly for New York, but a lack of run support snapped his two-game personal winning streak. He gave up three runs in seven innings.
"Well, these guys fight every night," Yankees manager Joe Girardi said.
The Rangers got on the board first on Adrian's Beltre's two-out single to center in the first. Ian Kinsler opened the inning with a walk and stole second before scoring on Beltre's hit.
Texas gave Darvish a 2-0 cushion in the sixth. Elvis Andrus walked, stole second and scored on Geovany Soto's two-double to center. Leonys Martin followed with a sharp single to right, but Soto didn't test the arm of Ichiro Suzuki. Soto was left stranded at third when Martin was thrown out trying to steal second.
Darvish was pulled in the seventh after giving up a single to Lyle Overbay and walking Vernon Wells. Robbie Ross came in and induced a double play to end the inning.
"He was pounding his fastball pretty good," Washington said of Darvish. "He felt strong, and then he went to his cutter and had a good slider. He mixed it up."
Nelson Cruz added to the lead in the bottom of the inning with his 23rd home run of the season, a 412-shot into the New York bullpen in left-center.
"Everything went right tonight," Cruz said. "We scored early, and Yu was amazing."
Tanner Scheppers pitched a perfect eighth for the Rangers, with Joe Nathan coming on to earn his 31st save in the ninth. The Texas bullpen has pitched 22 1/3 straight scoreless innings.
The Rangers made some big noise before the first pitch, trading three players to the Chicago Cubs to acquire Matt Garza. The veteran right-hander helps solidify a staff that's been decimated by injuries this season. The move reaffirms Texas' goal of getting back to the postseason.
"In our opinion, he was the best guy in the market, and we wanted to make a push to get him," general manager Jon Daniels said.
The Texas rotation is due to get another boost Tuesday when right-hander Alexi Ogando is scheduled to come off the disabled list to face the Yankees. Ogando has been out since June 9 due to right shoulder inflammation.
NOTES: The Rangers acquired Garza in exchange for RHP Justin Grimm, Triple-A INF Mike Olt, Class A RHP C.J. Edwards and two players to be named, the club announced. "We paid a steep price in talent to acquire Matt, but we did so knowing we've got other guys in the system," Daniels said. Garza, 29, could move into the Texas rotation as early as Wednesday. Garza was 6-1 with a 3.17 ERA in 11 starts this season for the Cubs. ... New York RHP Mariano Rivera has 38 career saves against Texas, the most by any opponent vs. the Rangers. ... The Yankees moved Nova ahead of RHP Phil Hughes in the rotation going into the second half of the season. Hughes will start Tuesday. ... Girardi on the suspension of Milwaukee Brewers LF Ryan Braun and those potentially to come: "The great message to kids is if you cheat and you lie, you're eventually going to get caught," Girardi said. Injured Yankees 3B Alex Rodriguez is among those thought to be facing sanctions from Major League Baseball.