ARLINGTON -- At no point this spring did anyone with the Texas Rangers suggest that Yu Darvish wouldn't have an outing where he would need a little offensive support to get him over the hump.
It took only one start for them to be proven right, after Darvish barely escaped from a miserable first inning in his first major league start Monday night.
Seattle tagged him for four runs on four hits before he could register two outs. He walked three, including two on four pitches, and 20 of his 42 pitches were out of the strike zone.
But the Rangers' mighty offense had nine chances to mount a comeback. It took the Rangers only four to overtake the Mariners and make Darvish the most relieved man at Rangers Ballpark.
Nelson Cruz, Mitch Moreland and Josh Hamilton swatted home runs in the third and fourth innings, and Darvish recovered after his false start in the first to earn the victory as the Rangers rallied past Seattle 11-5.
Cruz's first homer of the season was a three-run shot, and Ian Kinsler hit a carbon copy in the eighth inning to put the game out of reach. The 11-run outburst matched the Rangers' run total in their first three games.
A grateful Darvish, who showed he's pretty good at damage control, enjoyed every single run.
"Just like you saw tonight, those guys are incredible. Just incredible," said Darvish, who allowed five runs on eight hits in 5 2/3 innings.
"Today was more of a mental battle for me. I had to stay in there and battle with what I had. I thought whatever I had, if I could string those zeroes together, the offense would come back."
Darvish, who admitted that he had too much energy early on, wouldn't post a zero until the third inning.
He walked the first batter he faced, Chone Figgins, without throwing a strike, but came back to strike out Dustin Ackley. Ichiro Suzuki followed and blooped a single into left field in what might have been the most anticipated at-bat in the history of Japan baseball.
Suzuki was the first of six straight Mariners to reach. Included in the stretch were RBI singles by Kyle Seager and Miguel Olivo, and two more walks.
Darvish was so wild and ineffective that long man Scott Feldman started to warm in the Rangers' bullpen before Darvish retired Brendan Ryan and Figgins, the 10th batter of the inning, to get back to the dugout.
"I wasn't going to go snatch him in the first inning," manager Ron Washington said. "It seemed like he was just couldn't get a hold of his emotions. He was over-amped."
The Rangers started to chip away immediately. They scored two runs in the first against Hector Noesi, both of which came after the Mariners failed to convert an inning-ending double play on an Adrian Beltre bouncer.
Michael Young and Cruz collected the RBIs, but Seattle got one of the runs back with a pair of doubles in the second.
Cruz, though, tied the game in the third with a three-run homer to left field, and Moreland's two-run shot in the fourth gave the Rangers and Darvish a 7-5 lead.
Hamilton hit a towering 406-foot drive to center field three batters later.
"Our goal is to do what it takes to win the game and tonight that meant score runs," said Kinsler, who scored the Rangers' first run. "We were able to turn that up and put runs up for him. In the first inning to get those two runs to answer and put us close was huge. He felt like he was back in the game. He got a breather."
Darvish had settled in after the second. He allowed a single in the third and hit a batter, but then retired 10 straight before he walked Ackley with two outs in the sixth and allowed a sharp single by Suzuki on his 110th pitch.
Washington came to the mound, and Darvish exited to a standing ovation from the Rangers Ballpark crowd of 42,003. Alexi Ogando snuffed out the Mariners' threat with a strikeout of Justin Smoak.
Even though he put the Rangers in a big hole early, Darvish steadied himself and gave the offense a chance to come all the way back.
"I didn't give him that much of a chance for the pure number of pitches he threw in the first inning and the fact that he didn't have a feel for anything," team president Nolan Ryan said. "He hung in there and looked like a totally different pitcher at the end than he did at the start. I look at it as a very positive outing."
Jeff Wilson, 817-390-7760