ANAHEIM, Calif. — Yu Darvish was so masterful at times Wednesday night that it appeared one run would be enough for him to pitch the Texas Rangers to victory.
But they scored nine times for him in the fourth just to be safe.
The big inning and six dominant innings from Darvish were more than enough to send the Rangers to an 11-3 series-clinching victory over division-rival Anaheim.
Nelson Cruz hit a three-run homer in the fourth for the final three runs in the Rangers’ biggest single-inning output in a road game since Aug. 22, 2007, at Baltimore. They scored 30 runs in that game, and hit double digits Wednesday in the sixth on a two-run homer by Lance Berkman.
The Rangers were scheduled to board their charter flight for Minnesota after the game with a rush-hour arrival in the Twin Cities. An easy night and a winning night at Angel Stadium, though, would help make the trip a tad better.
Darvish and Angels spot starter Michael Roth matched zeroes through three scoreless innings, but five straight Rangers reached to start the fourth.
The sequence started with a leadoff walk to Adrian Beltre. Cruz and A.J. Pierzynski followed with singles for a 1-0 lead. After Craig Gentry walked, David Murphy grounded the first pitch he saw into right field for a 2-0 lead.
Roth was replaced after striking out Mitch Moreland, but David Carpenter offered no relief. He walked Ian Kinsler to push home another run, but rebounded to strike out Elvis Andrus and put the Angels on the verge of escaping down only 3-0.
Berkman, though, grounded a two-run single to center before Beltre walked for a second time in the inning. Cruz followed with a drive that landed at the base of the faux rocks in center field.
It might have cleared the rocks if he hadn’t broken his bat.
The Rangers had five hits and five walks in the inning, which lasted 34 minutes. That includes an injury delay for plate umpire John Hirshbeck, who no doubt is grateful that he was wearing a protective cup.
Darvish, who was already in control, sailed through three more innings. The right-hander allowed three hits, and improved to 4-1, lowered his ERA to 1.65 (6 in 26.2) and added 11 strikeouts for a league-leading 49.
The only rough patch he hit was in the fourth, when he took a fall while covering first base on a Josh Hamilton infield single. That nine-run cushion made for a soft landing.
Darvish struck out the side in the fifth and sixth for his 11th career game with at least 10 strikeouts. He has also logged 18 consecutive scoreless innings.
The Angels finally broke through in the eighth, scoring three times against long man Derek Lowe. But the game had long been decided thanks to a nine-run fourth inning and more dominant work by Darvish.
-- Jeff Wilson