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MIN@TEX: Darvish fans 10 over eight shutout innings

ARLINGTON -- Coming off the closest thing to a slump he's seen all season, Yu Darvish tweaked his delivery and found himself again Saturday.

In an authoritative 5-0 victory over the Twins, Darvish erased the memory of back-to-back losses in his previous two starts. Relying on his cutter more than in recent outings, Darvish struck out 10, allowed four hits and walked only one in eight scoreless innings Saturday, adding up to one of his strongest performances of the season.

"I can't say I was disappointed," Darvish said. "I think I did pretty well."

Saturday, the Rangers ace retired 20 of the final 22 batters he faced. He struck out eight different Twins hitters at least once.

It was a quick turnaround from a pair of subpar outings. He had thrown 11 innings combined in losses in Oakland and Anaheim, walking nine over those two games. On Saturday, he looked more like the pitcher who threw his first complete game, a 10-strikeout shutout, against Miami three starts ago.

"In recent starts, my mechanics were a little bit off," Darvish said. "I was looking for the right form. … With the delivery that I had today and a little bit of adjustment that I had to make in my mechanics, I was able to throw my cut fastball pretty easily."

Darvish threw more than 40 cutters Saturday -- more than he threw in the previous two losses combined.

"For him to be able to throw that cutter the way he did today, he has to stay behind the ball and he proved to me absolutely that he made the adjustment today," catcher Chris Gimenez said.

Gimenez said he knew "from the second pitch in the bullpen" before the game that Darvish would be tough Saturday. Twins manager Ron Gardenhire and his hitters found out shortly thereafter, though Darvish did allow three hits in the first two innings, putting men on second and third with one out in the second.

"Most guys, those big shooters like that ... have a second level when they get in trouble and they rear back and let it fly," Gardenhire said. "When people get in scoring position, they have another level to make the ball go a little bit more and he knows how to do that. I don't think he likes to have runs scored against him, and those guys [who] are big winners in this league have that second gear."

In 15 starts this season, Darvish has struck out 10 or more batters five times. Saturday was the 25th double-digit strikeout game of his career, the second-most in club history behind Nolan Ryan (34) and the most by anyone in the Majors since the beginning of 2012.

Darvish also has a streak of 20 scoreless innings in Arlington.

The Rangers' offense produced more than enough for the win thanks to some sharp baserunning and situational hitting. Gimenez doubled in the game's first run in the second off Minnesota starter Phil Hughes. In the third, Rougned Odor made a well-timed break for the plate when he saw Elvis Andrus' chopper to Hughes bounce high enough to give Odor time to score from third base.

Darvish was done for the day, after 110 pitches, when the Rangers pulled away with three runs in the bottom of the eighth.

The Rangers loaded the bases against Hughes. With the infield in and one out, manager Ron Washington brought in rookie Luis Sardinas to pinch hit for DH Donnie Murphy. Sardinas squeezed home Andrus for a crucial insurance run.

"It was executed perfectly … Sardinas deserves a lot of credit," Washington said. "A young kid up there in a tough situation."

The next batter, Leonys Martin, doubled to make the score 5-0 and chase Hughes after 7 2/3 innings. Hughes allowed 11 hits and struck out six.

Adrian Beltre paced the Rangers' offense with a 3-for-3 day, scoring twice. Martin and Shin-Soo Choo each had a pair of hits.

Neal Cotts pitched a scoreless ninth to secure back-to-back Rangers wins for the first time since June 13-14, and their first series victory at home since April 20. It was also their 14th shutout this season, the most in the AL.

Darvish was the difference in Saturday's game -- and he was a different pitcher than he was in the last two starts on the road.

"I thought he was Yu Darvish again," Washington said. "I don't care how good you are, there will be bumps in the road and there will be times when things don't go right. And that even can happen for Yu Darvish, as good as he is. It was nice for him to go out there today and find his pitches that work, and he mixed them well and he used them. It's nice to see him back." Comments