Texas Rangers

Darvish can’t match Keuchel as Rangers lose 7-1

Yu Darvish didn’t hold up his end Friday in the highly anticipated matchup of American League aces.

Dallas Keuchel certainly did.

Darvish barely made it through five innings before getting the hook after allowing three runs on seven hits as the Houston Astros beat the Texas Rangers 7-1 in a game that was delayed 2 hours, 6 minutes by rain.

Darvish clearly wasn’t pleased with the outing, which included him throwing 104 pitches to record 15 outs.

“I’ve got no excuse,” the right-hander said.

Four of the Astros’ hits against Darvish came with two outs in the fifth, and the third was a three-run homer by Carlos Correa that snapped a scoreless tie.

Darvish was done after the 27-pitch fifth, replaced by Dillon Gee. While Darvish has pitched worse, three runs in five innings against Keuchel, the Astros’ ace and the early front-runner for the Cy Young Award, put the Rangers in a difficult position.

“Probably not the best command that he’s had,” manager Jeff Banister said. “The cutter, the cut slider, the slider didn’t have his sharpest stuff, left a couple of them up.

“Worked in a lot of deep-count situations. When you look at the pitch count per inning, averages out a little over 20 pitches per inning. Then the damage done with the two outs there in the fifth with three consecutive hits, seemed like more pitches up in the zone.”

Darvish (5-4) was done in by the three-run homer on a bad slider for a second straight start. Jose Bautista got him last weekend at Toronto, and Correa did it Friday after Josh Reddick singled to right and Jose Altuve doubled.

Correa hit a slider that didn’t slide over the Southwest Airlines sign in left field. Darvish said that the wind at Globe Life Park regularly affects his slider, and if it is blowing the direction it was Friday, the results often aren’t good.

The results also usually aren’t good when he throws 20 pitches an inning.

“Today, it was almost like after two strikes, they were trying to battle,” Darvish said. “Just fight it off, fight it off, fight it off, and it got my pitch count up and that just cost me.”

Keuchel, meanwhile, improved to 9-0 and lowered his ERA to 1.67 after tossing six scoreless inning.

“He’s always been a tough guy,” third baseman Adrian Beltre said. “There’s a reason a why he won the Cy Young a couple of years ago. He won’t give up. He was trying to not throw a ball over the plate and he pitched really well, kept the ball down and in, down and away. When they get those borderline calls, he’s tough to hit and showed it today.”

Beltre collected two hits, a double against Keuchel and a homer against Ken Giles to prevent a shutout, to move his career hit total to 2,948. Beltre has 446 homers, 594 doubles and 1,076 extra-base hits.