ARLINGTON (AP) — It took Yu Darvish a bit longer than expected to get his 50th career win.
The Texas Rangers didn’t bank on taking this much time to reach .500, either.
Darvish reached his milestone with nine strikeouts in seven innings, and the Rangers beat the Philadelphia Phillies 5-1 on Tuesday night to stretch the majors’ longest active winning streak to seven games.
“I think we’re doing a great job with the starters,” Darvish said through an interpreter. “But at the same time, as a team, we’re playing good baseball. That’s why we’re winning games.”
Darvish became the sixth Japanese pitcher to reach 50 career victories. In his 109th start, he joined Hideo Nomo (123), Hiroki Kuroda (79), Hisashi Iwakuma (63), Daisuke Matsuzaka (56) and Tomo Ohka (51).
Darvish likely would have reached the mark sooner, but he missed the entire 2015 season and some of 2016 after having Tommy John surgery.
On Tuesday, Darvish mixed up his pitches and continued his dominance in interleague play, lowering his career ERA to 2.19 in 14 starts against the National League.
“Arguably the best slider in baseball, in my opinion,” Phillies manager Pete Mackanin said. “When that’s the first time a team sees him, it’s got to be tough, especially the way he located it.”
Darvish used his slider and curveball in key moments.
After cruising through the first five innings, he ran into trouble in the sixth inning, but struck out Freddy Galvis on a slider and Odubel Herrera on a curveball. He preserved a two-run lead by striking out Brock Stassi on a curveball with runners at first and second after he allowed his only run on an RBI single by Freddy Galvis in the seventh inning.
“I thought that good use of all his pitches tonight,” Rangers manager Jeff Banister said. “He really got the curveball in play tonight for some big strikeouts.”
Nomar Mazara had a solo homer in the first, and Mike Napoli hit a two-run shot in the eighth. Napoli, who came in hitting .165, went 3 for 3.
Closer Matt Bush struck out one in a perfect ninth after Napoli’s homer eliminated a save situation.
Phillies starter Jared Eickhoff (0-4) struck out eight and allowed seven hits in his first career start against the franchise that drafted him in 2011. Eickhoff was traded to Philadelphia in a deal that included LHP Cole Hamels in 2015.
Robinson Chirinos had an RBI groundout in the second inning and Jonathan Lucroy had an RBI double in the fifth to give the Rangers a 3-0 lead after Mazara’s homer.
Texas’ win streak is the second-longest in the big leagues this season. The Yankees won eight straight games between April 9 and 17.
“We didn’t start the year how we wanted to and we all knew that,” Mazara said. “We were struggling at the beginning. Everybody’s going to struggle at some point in the season.”
CENTER FIELD SHUFFLE
Banister said he’ll give Jared Hoying a couple games in center field after Carlos Gomez (right hamstring) was put on the disabled list and is expected to miss four to six weeks. Hoying was called up on Tuesday from Triple-A and went 0 for 3.
“I’m sure that there is still part of Jared that wants to show he’s a major league player,” Banister said. “Don’t know that he’s ever had an opportunity to have consistent at-bats. He’s probably going to get that opportunity now.”
The Rangers won a challenge in the fifth inning when Delino DeShields was called out at first on a pickoff throw to first base. After a 70-second review, DeShields was ruled safe, and he then scored on Lucroy’s double.
Texas is now 11 for 16 on challenges this season and has won the last six.
Phillies: RHP Aaron Nola will return to the Phillies rotation Sunday against Pittsburgh. Nola (lower-back strain) pitched 6 1/3 scoreless innings in a Triple-A rehab start Monday.
Rangers: Texas moved INF Hanser Alberto (right shoulder) to the 60-day disabled list Tuesday to make room for Hoying on the 40-man roster. … Banister said 3B Adrian Beltre (calf strain) jogged in the outfield at 50 percent and took batting practice.
Phillies: RHP Zach Eflin is making his sixth start and has yet to pick up a decision since returning from a knee injury April 18.
Rangers: RHP Andrew Cashner is winless in six starts with a 2.43 ERA.
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