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August 28, 2012

Wrapping up Rangers' 1-0 victory over Rays

After the first inning, Texas Rangers catcher Geovany Soto knew Yu Darvish had good stuff, and it showed.

Darvish faced a jam early in the second inning, as the Tampa Bay Rays put runners at second and third with no outs. But Darvish got out of it unscathed with a strikeout, shallow fly and ground out.

"He found that slot with the fastball and the cutter," Soto said. "And anytime he fell behind in the count, he had the off-speed to bring him back in the count. Yu didn't have to throw these guys a cookie or a fastball down the middle."

Darvish worked out of another jam in the fourth. He loaded the bases with one out, but induced an inning-ending double play grounder by Jose Lobaton.

Darvish threw seven scoreless innings, scattering six hits with two walks and 10 strikeouts. It was his eighth start with double-digit strikeouts, the most by a rookie in Rangers history.

“Finally he decided in his mind that he’s just going to go out there and compete,” manager Ron Washington said. “He was carrying a lot of baggage, and he’s done dumped the baggage. He was trying to impress a ton of people.

"Right now, the only thing he’s concerned about is impressing Yu Darvish. Once he does that, it impresses everyone else.”

The backend of the Rangers' bullpen closed it out, as Mike Adams worked around a one-out single in the eighth and Joe Nathan struck out the side in the ninth.

Here are a few postgame notes:

* The defense played well behind the pitching staff, notably Mitch Moreland. Moreland started a 3-6-1 double play to end the fourth, and also made a great play on a sharp grounder by Ben Zobrist to end the eighth. "It was a well-pitched ballgame and in those games you have to stay sharp on your defense," Moreland said. "Tonight was a prime example, 1-0 game, and we made some plays behind him and got the big hit."

* Ian Kinsler delivered the big hit for the Rangers, starting the bottom of the fourth with a solo homer to left. He took advantage of a 3-2 fastball by James Shields to produce the Rangers' first hit and the game's only run. "Shields did a good job of pitching tonight and luckily I got a fastball in," Kinsler said. "Luckily one run was enough to get us the win."

* There haven't been too many 1-0 games at Rangers Ballpark, but there have been three this season. That's the most 1-0 games in a season, as there were none at Rangers Ballpark last season. The Rangers have gone 3-0 in those games, defeating Seattle on April 10; Arizona on June 13; and Tampa Bay on Tuesday.

* Joe Nathan extended his single-season club record by converting his 25th straight save opportunity. That also matches the longest overall save streak in club history, as John Wetteland had 25 straight from July 25, 1997-May 20, 1998.

* Nelson Cruz left the game in the ninth inning with a left elbow contusion after being hit by a pitch in the fifth. X-rays after the game were negative.

* The Rangers are a season-high 25 games over .500. They also maintained a 5 1/2-game lead in the American League West over Oakland, which beat Cleveland.

-- Drew Davison

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