ARLINGTON, Texas (AP) - Yu Darvish struck out eight in 6 2-3 scoreless innings for his first victory in eight starts and the Texas Rangers scored twice on a squeeze bunt in a 3-2 victory over the Cincinnati Reds on Sunday.
Darvish (8-3) won for the first time since May 16, ending his longest professional winless drought - in his two years with the Rangers or seven in Japan before that. The right-hander was 0-2 with a 2.93 ERA in those seven games, when Texas scored only 12 runs while he was on the mound.
The Rangers scored off Mat Latos (7-2) when Elvis Andrus bunted in the fifth.
Latos made a barehanded grab and scoop in one motion. The toss home hit the earflap of Engel Beltre, who was still on the ground when Leonys Martin also scored for a 2-0 lead.
The AL West-leading Rangers have won 10 of 13 games since a six-game losing streak. Cincinnati has lost seven of nine.
Darvish threw 77 of 117 pitches for strikes on a sunny afternoon when the gametime temperature was 90 degrees, which was 10 degrees cooler than at the start of Friday night's series opener. While increasing his majors-best strikeout total to 151, he walked four and scattered four hits with only one 1-2-3 inning.
Joe Nathan, the fifth Texas reliever, pitched a perfect ninth for his 27th save in 28 chances.
Latos, 21-6 in his 50 career starts for the Reds, struck out nine and walked two in 6 2-3 innings.
Beltre led off the fifth by dragging a bunt past the mound for a hit before Martin's hustling double. Martin extended his hitting streak to 14 games, matching the longest by a Rangers this season, on the hit to right-center when he slid inside of second base and reached back to grab it while avoiding the tag.
When sliding into home, Beltre couldn't steer clear of the ball that ricocheted off his head, nor could he avoid the knee-to-knee collision with catcher Devin Mesoraco.
Martin scored and Andrus wound up at second before trainer Jamie Reed and manager Ron Washington were able to check on Beltre, who got up and walked back to the dugout a couple of minutes later and stayed in the game.
Martin led off the seventh with a single, stole second and scored on a single by Nelson Cruz.
Robbie Ross got the last out of the seventh after taking over for Darvish. Tanner Scheppers made his team-high 39th appearance, after three days off, and threw only two of his nine pitches for strikes.
Scheppers walked Zack Cozart on four pitches in the eighth and gave up consecutive singles to Joey Votto and Brandon Phillips before going to a 2-0 count against Jay Bruce - and being relieved by Neal Cotts. Jay Bruce and pinch-hitter Chris Heisey had consecutive sacrifice flies.
NOTES: The Rangers are off Monday, their only off day this season that will come in the middle of a homestand. ... Texas finished June at 14-14. ... Cincinnati has played twice at Rangers Ballpark. The Reds also lost two of three games in 2002.
The Associated Press News Service
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