Yu Darvish and the Texas Rangers won a memorable duel when he squared off with Hiroki Kuroda and the New York Yankees for the first time.
More than a year later in the rematch - the 11th matchup between Japanese starting pitchers in major league history - it's Darvish trying to put the brakes on the longest winless stretch of his career Tuesday night in New York.
The meeting April 24, 2012, was only the fourth career big league start for Darvish and captivated Japan as it was broadcast live across the country. Darvish struck out 10 while throwing 8 1-3 innings in a 2-0 victory in Texas. Kuroda yielded two runs in 6 2-3 innings.
But Darvish (7-3, 2.84 ERA) is 0-2 in six starts since May 16 despite a 2.66 ERA. Texas (44-32) has supplied him with an average of 1.99 runs of support in those outings.
He struck out 10 against Oakland last Tuesday, increasing his baseball-leading total to 137, but also allowed a season-high five runs over six innings in a 6-2 defeat.
"I didn't feel that I pitched badly but I think I gave up runs too easily," said Darvish, who never went more than six straight starts without a win during seven seasons in Japan. He hadn't gone more than three in a row in the majors without winning.
Kuroda (7-5, 2.78) also saw a dearth of run support during a five-start winless streak from May 22-June 13, receiving five runs over 28 2-3 innings. He put the skid to an end Wednesday with 6 2-3 innings of two-run ball in a 6-4 victory over the Dodgers.
Last April's meeting was Kuroda's second loss in as many career starts versus Texas before a two-hit shutout in a 3-0 win for the Yankees (41-34) in the Bronx on Aug. 14.
Compatriot Ichiro Suzuki, who has one hit in four straight games, went 6 for 11 against Darvish last season with a double and a triple.
Darvish, originally slated to start Sunday, will be pitching on six days' rest. He's 6-1 with a 3.04 ERA with that much time off, including wins in two such outings this season while throwing 15 2-3 scoreless innings.
Texas didn't miss him Sunday, completing a three-game sweep with a 2-1 win in its first visit to St. Louis since losing Game 7 of the 2011 World Series. It was the club's fifth consecutive victory after losing seven of eight and the first time the Cardinals have been swept this season.
"It says a lot when you sweep a team that's that talented, so I think that's definitely a boost," said Daniel Murphy, who went 2 for 4 with a double. "We had a lot of fun, we played with energy and we did exactly what we wanted to."
After totaling 13 runs in back-to-back wins over Tampa Bay, the Yankees were 0 for 6 with runners in scoring position in a 3-1 defeat to the Rays on Sunday.
Rookie Zoilo Almonte remained hot with two doubles in four at_bats, improving to 7 for 12 with four RBIs in five major league games.
Ian Kinsler is 11 for 27 with six RBIs during a seven-game hitting streak but went hitless in 11 at_bats in the teams' series in New York last season. Nelson Cruz has hit .379 with 11 RBIs over his last seven games but is batting .191 in 34 games against the Yankees.
New York has won 11 of 13 against Texas at Yankee Stadium.
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