(Reuters) - Texas Rangers pitcher Yu Darvish continued his blistering start to life in Major League Baseball as the Japanese right-hander breezed through the Oakland Athletics lineup in a 4-1 win on Wednesday.
Darvish, who leads Texas starters in wins, ERA and strikeouts, struck out seven more and allowed just one run in seven-and-two-third innings to improve his first-year record to 6-1.
“He was very efficient tonight,” Rangers manager Ron Washington told reporters. “He loaded up the strike zone, and that’s what he had to do.”
Oakland (19-19) claimed their lone score in the first inning, but the home Rangers roared back with all four of their runs in the fourth, where Adrian Beltre connected on a go-ahead two-run homer.
Josh Hamilton set up the rally with an infield single that extended his hitting streak to 16 games as he finished 2-for-4.
The victory opened up a five-game lead for Texas (24-14) at the top of the American League West and they remained tied with Tampa Bay and Baltimore at the front of the AL.
Their latest triumph was again set up by Darvish who is living up to lofty expectations since the Rangers bid more than $51 million for exclusive negotiating rights and then signed the big right-hander to a $60 million, six-year contract.
He allowed just four hits to a struggling Oakland offense that has scored only one run over the last two games.
“Today, I think the good part was that I was able to throw with less effort,” Darvish said. “I felt really good.”
Athletics’ rookie starter Tommy Milone (5-3) threw seven innings and gave up the four runs in the loss.
Writing by Jahmal Corner in Los Angeles; editing by Patrick Johnston and Amlan Chakraborty