By JEFF BARTL
(AP) — Texas Rangers manager Ron Washington wasn’t concerned when Yu Darvish hit a minor slump before having one of his best outings of the season.
It’s likely become taxing for Washington to remain patient with the rest of his club.
Darvish takes the mound Thursday night as the Rangers look to avoid a four-game sweep at the hands of the Baltimore Orioles while trying to end their longest road losing streak in nearly nine years.
After giving up 12 runs over 11 innings and losing his previous two starts, Darvish (8-4, 2.42 ERA) bounce back by allowing four hits and striking out 10 in eight innings of Saturday’s 5-0 win over Minnesota.
The right-hander, whose only career start against Baltimore came in the 2012 AL wild-card game when he allowed three runs – two earned – and struck out seven over 6 2-3 innings of a 5-1 loss, gave up one hit and walked one after the first inning.
“I thought he was Yu Darvish again,” Washington said. “I don’t care how good you are. There will be bumps in the road. There will be times
when things don’t go right. And that even can happen for Yu Darvish.”
Those types of lulls can even happen for a team that has won at least 90 games in four consecutive years. The Rangers (37-47) have dropped
four straight and 12 of 14 after blowing a four-run lead in Wednesday’s 6-4 loss.
“We certainly had some opportunities,” Washington said. “We just didn’t get it done.”
Texas, which is 10 games under .500 for the first time since finishing 75-87 in 2007, hasn’t dropped nine straight on the road since July 31-Aug. 16, 2005.
Baltimore (45-39), meanwhile, is a season-best six games over .500, has outscored the Rangers 21-8 in this series and has at least one homer in 12 straight games.
Adam Jones homered and drove in three runs Wednesday and is 11 for 21 during a six-game hitting streak. Jones is 13 for 24 with four home runs and 10 RBIs in six games this season against Texas, which has lost 10 of 11 meetings and five straight in Baltimore.
Ryan Flaherty also went deep Wednesday and had two hits to snap a 1-for-18 slump, and Chris Davis ended his 0-for-21 drought with a single in the eighth.
“It’s the sum of the parts, for sure,” Flaherty said. “It can’t be the same guys every night. It’s an opportunity for other guys to get in there and try to contribute and help the team win.”
The Orioles will look to keep rolling behind Wei-Yin Chen as he tries to put his last outing behind him while remaining unbeaten against the Rangers.
Chen (7-3, 4.19) went 2-0 with a 2.61 ERA over his previous five starts before giving up a season-worst five runs and seven hits – including three homers – over 3 1-3 innings of Saturday’s 5-4 loss to Tampa Bay in the shortest outing of his career.
His 12 homers allowed since May 22 are tied for the second-most in the majors.
“For every game, you don’t want to give up any home runs,” said Chen, who has allowed six over his last three starts. “Lately, I’ve been leaving more pitches up in the zone. (If) I don’t make the adjustments necessary, the results are going to look bad. So I’m going to look at that.”
The left-hander hasn’t allowed a single homer to Rangers hitters in his three starts against them, winning each outing while posting a 1.29 ERA.
Updated July 3, 2014