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Darvish throws gem, but Twins find way to win

The SportsXchange

ARLINGTON, Texas -- The Minnesota Twins spoiled what had been a masterful performance by Yu Darvish with two home runs and beat the Texas Rangers 3-2 on Friday night at Rangers Ballpark.

Texas (78-56) saw its three-game winning streak end in the opener of a brief three-game homestand. The Twins (58-75) snapped a five-game skid, which included a stretch of scoring just one run in four straight games.

Despite taking a no-hitter and a 2-0 lead into the seventh, Darvish couldn't hold on. Chris Herrmann and Justin Morneau hit consecutive home runs off Darvish -- the third time Minnesota has gone back-to-back this season -- to take a 3-2 advantage.

"We were going to find a way to get him," Twins manager Ron Gardenhire said. "We were into the game. And you know they had a couple of chances to add on and we made some plays and kept ourselves in the game.

"He was punching us out, absolutely. But we also had a couple of guys put some swings on him, so you've just got to figure out a way. You've just got to hang in there."

Herrmann's two-run shot to right followed a leadoff walk to Brian Dozier and was the Twins' first hit of the game. Morneau followed with a solo blast and Darvish was done after Trevor Plouffe doubled two batters later.

"Of all the pitches that he threw, two pitches were the difference," Texas manager Ron Washington said. "Fastball he wanted to go away with it and he cut it across the zone (to Herrmann), and then a breaking ball to Morneau. There was the difference right there.

"He threw a heck of a ballgame. Certainly as it turned out it was going to be a close one. We only put up two runs and they put up three."

Darvish struck out 11, He said he didn't tire, despite the 100-degree heat at the start of the game.

"Physically I felt fine, but in that situation in the seventh inning, I told myself I can't allow a home run. As soon as I told myself that, you know what happened," he said.

Darvish set a club record for strikeouts in a month with 64 in August. He also became the first pitcher since 2004 (Randy Johnson and Johan Santana) with a 60-strikeout month. His 236 punch outs this season are the second most in team history to Nolan Ryan's 301 in 1989.

"Strikeouts are great, but the biggest thing is we've got to win the game," Rangers catcher A.J. Pierzynski said. "We didn't score enough runs. Yu threw the ball great. He made two mistakes and it cost him."

Minnesota started Liam Hendriks (1-2) gave up two runs (one earned) through six innings and combined with four relievers to pick up the victory. Glen Perkins worked the ninth to earn his 31st save.

"Liam hung in there," Gardenhire said. "Dozier made some great plays at second base to keep us in the ballgame and stay within striking distance. And then finally Dozier leads off, draws a walk, a couple of home runs and then you have a lead and our bullpen takes over and does just a super job."

The Rangers had a chance to tie the game in the seventh, put left a runner stranded at third. Craig Gentry, pinch hitting for David Murphy, tripled into the right-field corner with one out.

Leonys Martin, facing left-hander Brian Duensing, grounded out to second against a drawn-in infield. Elvis Andrus did the same to short against righty Josh Roenicke to end the threat.

Darvish cruised through the first five innings, striking out seven and carrying a no-hitter into the sixth.

The Rangers took a 1-0 lead in the third on Jurickson Profar's fifth homer of the season. The 399-foot shot off Hendriks ricocheted off the upper deck ribbon board in right.

Texas added a run in the fourth thanks to some speed and an error. Ian Kinsler went from first to third on a steal and wild throw into center by Herrmann. Pierzynski's slow roller to first easily scored Kinsler for a 2-0 lead.

NOTES: Texas suspended OF Nelson Cruz took batting practice before the game and is headed to the Arizona Instructional League with the expectation of returning should the Rangers reach the postseason. Nelson's 50-game suspension ends at the end of the regular season. Nelson also apologized to the organization, fans and Major League Baseball. "It's been a really tough few weeks," he said. "I have good friends and good family. They've been behind me." ... Twins LF Josh Willingham is staying put for the rest of the season. Willingham was reportedly claimed off waivers by Baltimore, but the waiver trade deadline passed Friday without a transaction. The 34-year-old cleanup hitter can't be traded until after the season.
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