ARLINGTON, Texas – Yu Darvish matched a career high with 14 strikeouts and A.J. Pierzynski had three hits, including a home run, and three RBIs in the Texas Rangers' 7-1 victory over the Arizona Diamondbacks on Thursday.
Darvish allowed five hits over seven innings and struck out 12 of the first 18 hitters he faced in helping the Rangers pull within 3 ½ games of Oakland, which was idle.
The AL West division rivals open a three-game series on Friday in Oakland.
Darvish (10-5) has a major-league best eight games with 10 strikeouts or more this season.
In 50 career starts, Darvish has 16 games of 10 or more strikeouts, second only to Dwight Gooden in the modern era of major-league history. Gooden had 20 games in 1984-85.
Darvish's fourth career game with 14 strikeouts matched a career high set this season and is now the most in club history.
Nolan Ryan had three in 1990.
Zeke Spruill (0-1) took the loss in his first career major-league start. Spruill allowed five runs on seven hits in four innings.
Martin Prado accounted for Arizona's only run, an RBI single in the ninth off Joakim Soria.
Pierzynski led the Rangers' offense, going 3-for-4 with a home run and two-run single in the seventh.
Leonys Martin had two RBIs and David Murphy and Mitch Moreland had one each in the Rangers' 11-hit attack.Solo home runs by Pierzynski and Moreland in the second and third innings gave the Rangers an early lead.
Texas broke open the game with three in the fourth, all with two outs.
Murphy, who was 3-for-4, smacked yet another solo home run to left-center field.
Jurickson Profar kept the rally alive with a single to center, and Moreland was hit by a pitch to put runners on first and second for Martin, who cleared the bases with a double to left-center.
Martin was thrown out trying to turn his extra-base hit into a triple.
Darvish, meanwhile, was in charge, striking out five of six in the third and fourth innings.