<
>

Lack of execution hurts Darvish, Rangers

ARLINGTON, Texas -- No walks and eight strikeouts usually means a good night for Yu Darvish.

So does seeing his team put up four runs for him in the first two innings.

But the Texas Rangers' ace could not keep the Houston Astros -- a team that has seen two of his most dominating outings -- in check.

The Astros handed Darvish his fifth loss of the season with an 8-4 victory Wednesday night at Globe Life Park.

"All my pitches were there," Darvish said through an interpreter. "I just didn't execute. My command wasn't bad. In key situations, Houston was hitting the ball."

Said Rangers manager Ron Washington: "He left some pitches in the wrong places. Usually when we put four runs on the board for him, it's a win."

Washington noted that the tying home run Darvish gave up to Robbie Grossman in the fifth inning was very uncharacteristic of his ace.

"He usually doesn't do that," the manager said.

Shin-Soo Choo lost one ball in the sun and came up empty with a dive on a go-ahead double by Houston's Carlos Corporan in the sixth.

"He's having some problems getting jumps," Washington said of his left fielder. "Some days are better than others."

Darvish was struck by a ball on the top of his head Tuesday in batting practice. When asked if it was a factor, Darvish showed a sense of humor about an incident he evidently felt was overblown and said in jest that he made a will Tuesday before going to bed.

"Fortunately, I was able to wake up this morning, and I felt good," he said with a smile.

The start was the final one for Darvish before the All-Star break. Looking at the bigger picture, he rated it an OK first half -- 8-5 record, 2.97 ERA.

Despite the Rangers' struggles -- 18 losses in 21 games -- Darvish says he is proud of the team.

"I know what the fans are expecting," he said. "We're struggling right now, but we're trying."