By Jeff Wilson
HOUSTON -- Yu Darvish came within one out of becoming the 24th pitcher in major-league history to throw a perfect game Tuesday night, but No. 9 hitter Marwin Gonzalez spoiled history with a single as the 27th batter in a 7-0 Rangers victory over the Astros.
Darivsh struck out a career-high 14 in just missing out on the second perfect game in Rangers history. Kenny Rogers throw a perfect game in 1994. There have been four other no-hitters in club history, by Jim Bibby in 1973, Bert Blyleven in 1977, and Nolan Ryan in 1990 and 1991.
Ian Kinsler hit a two-run homer in the seventh inning to give Darvish a little more cushion while chasing history. It looked like Darvish would get there until Gonzalez hit a ground single through the middle and out of the reach of diving shortstop Elvis Andrus.
Darvish, who threw 111 pitches, went to a 3-2 count four times and a 3-1 count once. His toughest out was Chris Carter, who saw 21 pitches in three at-bats. Carter saw nine and fouled off three full-count pitches before striking out to start the eighth.
Jason Castro grounded to shortstop Elvis Andrus to start the ninth, and Carlos Corporan grounded to second on the next pitch. The next pitch was a 91 mph fastball Gonzalez pumped his fist as he ran to first base.
Darvish opened the game by striking out the first two hitters, and he got all three in the second. By the time he struck out the side again in the fourth, he had nine strikeouts and no balls had left the infield.
Carter started the fifth with a flyball to the wall in left field, and Rick Ankiel followed with a soft liner that Mitch Moreland caught above his head as he went to his right.
Darvish matched his career-high in strikeouts with No. 11 to start the sixth. Moreland had to grab another soft liner for the next out, though that one from Corporan was right at him. Moreland also made an unassisted out to end the inning on a Gonzalez grounder.
But the Rangers were clinging to a 1-0 lead after six, a run courtesy of an RBI single by Lance Berkman in the third. But Kinsler gave Darvish a bigger cushion with a two-run homer after Craig Gentry had tripled with one out. His first homer of the year clanged high off the Chick-Fil-A foul pole.
The Rangers tacked on four more runs and finished with 12 hits. Andrus went 3 for 4 with two triple, and Berkman was 3 for 4 with two RBIs.