The Texas Rangers aren't ready to relinquish control of the AL West just yet, and Yu Darvish wants to regain some himself.
Darvish tries to avoid losing a fifth consecutive start to the Oakland Athletics and help the Rangers add to their slim lead as these division rivals conclude a three-game set Wednesday.
After dropping Monday's opener to fall into a first-place tie in the West, Texas (80-58) regained its lead with Tuesday's 5-1 victory. Mitch Moreland stayed hot with his fifth homer in 11 games and Alex Rios added his 14th of the year as the Rangers won for the 13th time in 16 road games.
They now give the ball to Darvish (12-6, 2.73 ERA) who has posted a 5.18 ERA in dropping his last four to Oakland (79-59) and is winless in his last three starts overall while walking nine. Alberto Callaspo is 7 for 16 against him, and Coco Crisp and Yoenis Cespedes are both 3 for 9 with a homer. Brandon Moss is 2 for 10, though both hits left the yard.
"Yes, I'm very frustrated," he told MLB's official website after his loss Friday at Minnesota.
The hard-throwing right-hander - who leads the majors with 236 strikeouts - carried a no-hitter into the seventh inning there before surrendering back-to-back homers that accounted for all the runs in a 3-2 loss.
"He made two mistakes and they didn't miss them," catcher A.J. Pierzynski said of Darvish, who struck out 11. "Strikeouts are great, but the biggest thing is we've got to win the game."
While Darvish has struggled versus the A's and recently, counterpart Jarrod Parker (10-6, 3.59) has shined, going 5-1 with a 2.93 ERA in six career starts against Texas. David Murphy is 3 for 17 in their matchups, and Adrian Beltre is 4 for 22.
Parker's lone defeat to the Rangers came 3-1 on May 22, but he hasn't lost since. The right-hander has gone 8-0 with a 2.57 ERA in his last 17 starts, including a win over Darvish on June 18, and has yielded three runs or fewer in all but one of those outings.
He gave up three runs and six hits in seven-plus innings but didn't receive a decision in Friday's 4-3 win over the Rays.
Parker will need to be careful against Moreland, who has five homers and seven RBIs in eight games in Oakland this year. The Rangers have hit 21 home runs during their 16-game road surge.
Rangers shortstop Elvis Andrus could miss his fourth straight game due to a sore back.
"I feel better for sure than the past few days," Andrus said. "I still feel some pain in the middle of my lower back, but it's a lot less. I'm trying to get my body ready to go but I don't want to be out there 50 percent."
Andrus is 5 for his last 39 (.128) against the A's.
Callaspo, Cespedes and Josh Donaldson each had two hits Tuesday for Oakland, which went 1 for 9 with runners in scoring position and lost for the seventh time in 10 games between the teams this year.
The A's, though, still lead Tampa Bay by 2 1/2 games for the top AL wild-card spot.
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