ANAHEIM, Calif. — Nelson Cruz capped a nine-run fourth inning with a three-run homer, Lance Berkman had four RBIs and the Texas Rangers helped Yu Darvish cruise to an 11-3 victory over the Los Angeles Angels on Wednesday night in the rubber game of the series.
Darvish (4-1) allowed three hits over six scoreless innings, struck out 11 and lowered his ERA to 1.65 after getting staked to an 11-0 lead. It was the right-hander’s 11th double-digit strikeout performance in 34 major league starts.
Darvish, who did not allow a runner past first base, is 5-1 with a 3.83 ERA in eight starts against the AL West-rival Angels — whom he has faced more than any other team since coming over from Japan last season.
Michael Roth (1-1) threw 75 pitches over 3 1-3 innings in his first big league start, allowing five runs and six hits. The 23-year-old left-hander made four relief appearances earlier this season, allowing two runs over five innings and striking out seven of the 19 batters he faced. He was filling in for Tommy Hanson, who is on the bereavement list because of a death in the family.
The first five Texas batters reached base against Roth in the fateful fourth. A.J. Pierzynski, whose ninth-inning homer gave Texas a 7-6 win in the series opener, broke a scoreless tie with an RBI single and David Murphy singled home another run. One out later, David Carpenter relieved Roth and walked Ian Kinsler to force in a run.
Berkman drove in two more with a two-out single, Adrian Beltre walked and Cruz drove the next pitch to left-centre for his fifth home run and 24th of his career against the Angels. Fifteen of his last 33 homers, in fact, have come against the Halos -- including a 484-foot drive against Bobby Cassevah at Angel Stadium on June 3, 2012 after he got the green light on a 3-0 pitch.
After all that, Pierzynski came up for the second time in the inning and tried to check his swing on a foul tip that struck umpire John Hirschbeck right in the groin. He crumpled to the ground and stayed there for a few excruciating painful minutes, but stayed in the game after getting checked out by Angels trainer Rick Smith.
The nine-run inning was the second at the "Big A" during this homestand. On Saturday, the Angels used a nine-run first to beat Rick Porcello and the Detroit Tigers 10-0.
Berkman made it 11-0 in the sixth with his second homer of the season, against Michael Kohn. The Rangers have scored seven or more runs in each of Darvish's wins this year. Last season, they scored at least seven in 10 of his 16 victories.
NOTES: Roth was the seventh different pitcher to start a game for the Angels through the first 20 games. Last season they used eight pitchers in that role -- including Brad Mills, who won his only start with them while subbing for an injured Dan Haren. Mills was claimed by the Rangers on March 23. ... Darvish has allowed one home run in his last 11 regular-season starts -- a solo shot by Mike Trout, who is one of only two players to take him deep twice. The other is Toronto's Edwin Encarnacion. ... Angels 2B Howie Kendrick, who had two homers and four RBIs Tuesday night -- including a walkoff homer in the 11th inning -- is hitless in 14 career at-bats against Darvish with seven strikeouts. ... X-rays taken on Jeff Baker's bruised left knee were negative, but he wasn't in the Rangers lineup after injuring himself sliding hard into the short wall in the left field corner catching Jeff Hamilton's flyball on Tuesday night. Manager Ron Washington is hoping he'll be ready on Friday night for the start of a three-game set at Minnesota, where the Twins will be starting lefties in the first two games. "I was a little concerned last night, to be honest," Baker said after getting the results of the X-rays. "But it's just a bruise, basically, and I've got some swelling in there in the joint line that we're working on pretty hard to get out. The doc checked out the ligaments and everything was intact, so I was fortunate. But I'm always going to play the game hard, and this comes with the territory. If I can get it to where it doesn't affect me and doesn't change my swing, then it won't be too long and I'll be ready to grind it out and play."