(Reuters) - Yu Darvish enjoyed one of his best performances of the season to help the high-flying Texas Rangers edge out the Tampa Bay Rays 1-0 on Tuesday as the home team recorded a sixth win in seven games.
The Japanese rookie right-hander blew away Tampa Bay with 10 strikeouts in seven scoreless innings to put his mid-season troubles behind him and condemn the Rays (70-59) to a fourth straight defeat.
Darvish (13-9) had missed his previous start with a leg injury and lost five of his last seven decisions entering the contest but against the Rays, he managed to deliver his first shutout since April 24.
"Tonight, I felt really good," Darvish told reporters. "I was not worried about throwing strikes or giving up walks. I just focused on each pitch and getting hitters out."
Mike Adams tossed the eighth and closer Joe Nathan struck out the side in the ninth for his 27th save of the season.
Tampa Bay's James Shields (12-8) nearly matched Darvish pitch-for-pitch, striking out eight and allowing just one run in seven innings, but the home run he surrendered to Ian Kinsler in the fourth turned out to be the difference between the teams.
"(Shields) did a good job of pitching tonight, and luckily I got a fastball in," Kinsler said. "That's the goal - to win games, regardless of how it's done."
The four-game losing streak is a worry for the Rays, who have lost their lead in the American League wildcard standings and now trail Oakland and Baltimore by 1 1/2 games.
Texas (77-52), meanwhile, maintained their 5 1/2-game advantage over the Athletics in the AL West.