CLEVELAND -- On most days, manager Ron Washington said, the performance turned in Sunday by Yu Darvish would result in a Texas Rangers victory.
Four runs, one of them unearned, in six innings meets the Washington standard for a starting pitcher of just keeping his team in the game. Darvish did that at Progressive Field.
But his outing didn't meet the standard he had set in his two previous starts, nor did it match Cleveland starter Ubaldo Jimenez against a Rangers lineup that is lacking its usual punch.
The result, along with a bad break in the third inning, was a 4-2 Indians victory that sent Darvish to his first big league loss.
The Rangers have lost three straight series and four of their past five games as they head to Baltimore for a four-game series that begins tonight.
"I did at least the job that I'm supposed to do as a starting pitcher," Darvish said. "Overall, my fastball command was off a little, but even with that I was able to use my other pitches to stay competitive throughout the game."
Darvish allowed six hits and four walks, and also struck out 11 to become the 15th pitcher since 1918 to have multiple outings with 10 strikeouts over his first six career games.
But nothing was easy for Darvish, who had only one perfect inning. He frequently found himself behind in the count, and needed 112 pitches to record 18 outs.
"That's a pretty good team about not chasing pitches out of the zone," Washington said. "You look at his line, he gave up three [earned] runs. That's keeping us in the ballgame."
Asdrubal Cabrera's two-run double in the third and Jason Kipnis' solo homer in the fifth were the key blows for the Indians, but just as important was a pop-up that Johnny Damon hit about 100 feet to start the third inning.
Ian Kinsler never saw it, losing the ball in the sun before it landed between first base and second base. Kipnis followed with a walk, taking a couple of borderline pitches, and Cabrera drove both home with a line shot down the right-field line.
"I saw it go up, then I lost it in the sun, then I saw it hit the ground," Kinsler said of the Damon pop-up that was scored a single.
Said Darvish on the Kipnis plate appearance: "There were some tough calls. If I'd thrown it more over the plate, he [umpire Angel Campos] probably would have called it a strike."
Cabrera would score an unearned run when Elvis Andrus threw a ball into the stands after making a nifty backhanded stop on a Shin-Soo Choo grounder with two outs.
The three-run inning put Darvish in a deficit the offense couldn't overcome as the Rangers couldn't take advantage of the early struggles of Jimenez.
A first-inning opportunity with runners at first and second with one out fizzled after Josh Hamilton was thrown out at second trying to advance on a wild pitch.
Jimenez walked the bases loaded with two outs in the third, but the Rangers couldn't capitalize. Michael Young followed, but was a quick out after swinging at a pitch out of the strike zone and taking a fastball for a strike. He grounded out on the third pitch.
Jimenez straightened himself out and ended up allowing only two hits in seven scoreless innings. The Rangers scored twice in the eighth, on a Hamilton groundout and a Young single, but Mitch Moreland was left at first base in the ninth after a leadoff single.
"It is uncharacteristic, but offense comes and goes," said left fielder David Murphy, who was stranded in the fourth after a leadoff double. "We do need to take advantage of opportunities when we get them."
Jeff Wilson, 817-390-7760