ARLINGTON, Texas (AP) — Yu Darvish finally lost a game at home for the Texas Rangers.
Except for a couple of pitches, it was still an All-Star worthy performance. Now fans will determine if the Japanese ace gets to go to Kansas City with seven of his teammates and his manager.
Darvish threw a wild pitch that allowed the tiebreaking run and gave up a long homer as Texas lost 3-1 to the Oakland Athletics despite his 11 strikeouts Sunday night.
“Before tonight, winning those seven games at home, it’s not like I pitched great every single time, automatically win games,” he said through his translator. “There’s some games maybe I should have lost, but the hitters picked me up, the relievers picked me up, kind of help me accomplish that. It’s a very unfortunate loss.”
The fifth 10-strikeout game for Darvish (10-5) matched NL All-Star pitcher R.A. Dickey for the most in the majors this year. The 11 Ks equaled his season high for Darvish, who had been only the second major leaguer in a half-century to win his first seven career home starts.
Brandon Moss homered for Oakland and Travis Blackley (2-2), the left-hander claimed off waivers in mid-May, picked off two runners while holding a lineup loaded All-Stars to one run over seven innings.
“For him to be pitching as well as he is at the big-league level is really a testament to a guy who has persevered,” Oakland manager Bob Melvin said. “It’s good to see a guy who’s gone through a lot and worked so hard and now having success.”
Ryan Cook, Oakland’s only All-Star pick, worked a perfect ninth for his seventh save in 10 chances.
The A’s got Blackley after he was designated for assignment by San Francisco. He is 2-0 with a 1.93 ERA his last four starts, including his win June 15 against San Diego that was his first in the majors since July 1, 2004.
Though Darvish was left off the initial AL All-Star roster announced earlier Sunday, the right-hander is one of five pitchers who are candidates for the final spot that will be determined by fans voting online through Thursday.
Texas (50-30), still with the best record in the majors, had its five-game winning streak snapped. The Rangers have won seven consecutive series after winning the first three games against Oakland.
After Darvish got his 10th strikeout in the sixth, and before his 11th to end the inning, Yoenis Cespedes doubled down the right-field line before a wild pitch on a strange play that put Oakland up 2-1.
“I made a very good pitch, location was very good, he just hit it, he’s a very good hitter,” Darvish said. “After that, the wild pitch that scored a run, that’s a very important at-bat where I have to give it my all. I didn’t make the pitch and the wild pitch was kind of unfortunate.”
The speedy Jemile Weeks, who reached on a fielder’s choice, stopped at third. But Darvish threw a pitch that bounced under the feet of a hopping batter Seth Smith and the mitt of catcher Yorvit Torrealba then bounced off umpire Manny Gonzalez and in front of the plate.
Weeks slid home safely while Darvish unsuccessfully tried to scoop the ball with his glove toward the plate.
“His off-speed had been his go-to pitch and so I knew he was going to use it at some point during that at-bat,” Weeks said. “I was looking for a down off-speed pitch, and if it kicked away, that’s a big run against this team. So as soon as I seen it kick, I was gone. … Any opportunity to score a run, you’ve got to take.”
Moss hit the first pitch of the seventh into the second deck of seats in right field, his eighth homer making it 3-1.
Oakland was the first team Darvish has faced three times, and has lost the last two against the AL West rival.
In the Texas sixth, No. 9 hitter Craig Gentry led off with a drive to straightaway center that bounced off the wall and then the foot of Cespedes. The ball went over the wall and umpires ruled it a double even though Gentry got to third.
Blackley got out of that inning retiring All-Star selections Ian Kinsler, Elvis Andrus and Josh Hamilton on popups.
Hamilton, Adrian Beltre and Mike Napoli, the three Rangers selected by the fans as All-Star starters, were a combined 0-for-9 against Blackley.
Andrus extended his hitting streak to nine games with a first-inning single, but was picked off by Blackley. Torrealba got picked off after a leadoff single in the third.
“He really got me right there,” said Andrus, whose RBI single in the third produced the only Texas run. “I saw his body lean to home plate, that’s when I was shuffling and stuff, and he did really good.”
NOTES: Darvish had strikeouts in 14 consecutive innings, the longest streak for a Texas pitcher since 2003, until not having one in the seventh. … It was Nolan Ryan Snow Monkey Day at Rangers Ballpark, with 10,000 stuffed snow monkeys given to kids 13 and under. The promotion had ties to Ryan’s time on the Texas Parks and Wildlife Commission from 1995-2001, and a hilarious 2008 radio interview that can be found on the Internet in which the Hall of Fame pitcher talks about being the “Unofficial Snow Monkey Ambassador” when the animals were running wild in South Texas. … Hamilton’s bat shattered on his swing leading off the fourth, and the splintered portion helicoptered toward right field. It landed just to the left of second baseman Weeks, who understandably bobbled the ball briefly before throwing to first for the out.