ANAHEIM, California - Yu Darvish struck out nine while allowing only one run over eight innings and Adrian Beltre hit a game-winning home run to give Texas a 3-1 victory over the Los Angeles Angels on Thursday.
Darvish, a Japanese pitcher completing his first North American season, has gone 4-0 in his past five starts for Texas and has hurled at least seven innings in his past six games.
The 26-year-old right-hander has allowed only six runs over 37 innings in his past five starts on his way to a 16-9 Major League Baseball record and 3.90 earned-run average.
The Rangers, losers in the World Series the past two years, improved to 89-60 and stretched their lead over Oakland in the American League West division to four games as they near clinching a return to the playoffs.
Beltre blasted a two-run homer off Angels relief pitcher Ernesto Frieri in the ninth inning to produce the winning runs. Joe Nathan then replaced Darvish on the mound for Texas and induced the final three outs to secure the triumph.
A fifth-inning sacrifice fly out by Geovany Soto allowed Nelson Cruz to score to give the Rangers a 1-0 lead but the Angels equalized in the sixth as Peter Bourjos scored when Torii Hunter hit into a fielder's choice.
Darvish, who threw 70 of his 108 pitches on Thursday for strikes, has struck out 214 batters over 204 2/3 innings, becoming only the 16th rookie pitcher since 1900 to reach 200 strikeouts in a season.
"He throws so many different pitches for strikes when he throws strikes that you don't know what to expect," Rangers outfielder Josh Hamilton said. "It's fun to watch."
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