ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. (AP) — Yu Darvish allowed seven hits over seven innings in his season debut, Elvis Andrus hit a two-run homer, and the Texas Rangers avoided a three-game sweep by beating the Tampa Bay Rays 3-0 on Sunday.
Darvish (1-0) struck out six and walked one. Sidelined by neck stiffness, it was his first outing since a spring training game on March 16.
Darvish got his 500th career strikeout, coming in 401 2-3 innings, by fanning David DeJesus and Wil Myers in the first. According to the Rangers, it is the fewest innings for a starter to reach 500 strikeouts in major league history.
Andrus put the Rangers up 2-0 with his homer off Joel Peralta (0-1) in the eighth. Donnie Murphy made it 3-0 on an RBI infield during the ninth.
Neal Cotts replaced Alexi Ogando for the Rangers with two on and two outs in the eighth, and struck out Matt Joyce on a 3-2 pitch. Joakim Soria pitched the ninth for his first save.
Alex Cobb scattered three hits, walked one and struck out six in seven shutout innings for the Rays. Only one runner reached second against the Tampa Bay right-hander.
Tampa Bay had runners on second and third with one out in the fifth, but failed to score when Myers hit an infield pop fly and Ben Zobrist flew out.
Darvish got three consecutive outs after allowing Evan Longoria’s double to lead off the sixth. He also worked out of a jam during the seventh after Ryan Hanigan hit a leadoff double.
The Rays were 0 for 11 with runners in scoring position.
Notes: Darvish was activated from the 15-day disabled list and RHP Nick Martinez was optioned to Double-A Frisco. … Rangers RHP Colby Lewis (hip surgery) gave up four runs and four hits over five innings in a rehab start for Triple-A Round Rock. … Texas LHP Joe Saunders (bruised left ankle) is not expected to be ready for his regular bullpen session Monday and could miss his next start. … Texas RHP Tanner Scheppers (0-0) will face Boston RHP John Lackey (1-0) Monday night in the opener of a three-games series at Fenway Park. … Tampa Bay LHP Matt Moore (0-1) and Royals LHP Jason Vargas (0-0) are the scheduled starters for Monday night’s game in Kansas City.