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TEX@DET: Darvish strikes out five over 6 1/3 frames

DETROIT -- The Rangers are hitting .353 and averaging eight runs a game on a six-game undefeated roadtrip. Second baseman Ian Kinsler said that's not what is so gratifying about the way the Rangers are playing.

"Starting pitching is, for sure," Kinsler said. "The way they have been throwing has been outstanding. They have been keeping us in the game, 1-5, and the bullpen has been lights out."

Yu Darvish has had a hard time keeping up with the Rangers' other four starters, but manager Ron Washington said he keeps progressing and the progression continued on Thursday night at Comerica Park. Darvish won for the second time in three starts as the Rangers pummeled the Tigers, 10-3, in the first of a four-game series.

Darvish went 6 1/3 innings, allowing one run on just two hits. He walked five and struck out five over 121 pitches while raising his record to 2-0 with a 3.57 ERA.

"He made another step forward," Washington said. "It's been that process since he got here and he did a great job tonight using all his pitches. He used his fastball well and threw his breaking ball in every count. I wish he had gotten through seven, but he did a great job. He really did."

Rangers starters, reinforcing Kinsler's assessment, are now 9-0 with a 2.37 ERA on the season. That's the longest winning streak by an American League rotation to start the season since the Yankees' starters won 16 straight decisions to open 2003.

"We're feeling good and we're doing a lot of good things, for sure," shortstop Elvis Andrus said. "But our starting pitching has had a lot to say about that. We have a nice offense, but the pitching is really doing well."

The Rangers' offense is really starting to take off. They ended up out-hitting the Tigers, 19-5, while taking advantage of six walks, two errors and one hit batter. They also had four stolen bases and Mike Napoli hit his fifth home run in his last four games.

"He's crazy ... he can hit anything right now," outfielder Nelson Cruz said.

Cruz, Kinsler and Michael Young all finished with three hits. In the past three games, Rangers hitters are 50-for-124 (.403) with eight home runs and 19 walks. Opposing pitchers have thrown 573 pitches in those games. By comparison, Rangers pitchers have thrown 438 pitches.

"Well, sometimes it just isn't your day," Tigers manager Jim Leyland said. "That pretty much sums it up. We just couldn't stop them. When they hit it hard, it was a hit, when they didn't hit it hard, it was a hit. It's one of those nights. We just got beat up."

The Rangers, including the playoffs, came to Detroit having lost 18 of their last 24 games at Comerica Park. But right now, the Rangers aren't losing anywhere. They have now won six straight on the road, tying the club record for most wins on the road to start the season and seven straight, overall. They are 11-2, the best record in the American League.

"Obviously, we have the utmost respect for them," Leyland said. "People who saw them in Arizona felt like they were the best team they saw ... We know it's a very good team. We know it's a very solid lineup with a lot of depth to it. But they're in the same league we are, so we're going to have to play them."

The Rangers took a 1-0 lead against Tigers starter Adam Wilk in the first after Kinsler led off with a single and went to third on a one-out single by Josh Hamilton. Wilk struck out Adrian Beltre, but Michael Young, back in the lineup after missing a game because of back stiffness, grounded a single through the left side to put the Rangers ahead. Napoli then made it 2-0 in the second with a home run just over the right-field wall.

The Tigers finally broke through against Darvish in the fourth after a leadoff walk to Prince Fielder and a double by Delmon Young put runners on second and third. Darvish struck out Alex Avila, but Don Kelly grounded out to the right side, allowing Fielder to score. Jhonny Peralta then flied out to end the inning.

The Tigers were 0-for-5 with runners in scoring position against Darvish and 1-for-10 overall in the game. Rangers pitchers entered the game having held opponents to a .187 batting with runners in scoring position, lowest in the league.

"I know that if I battle and keep the team close in the game, the offense is going to come through for me," Darvish said. "The biggest improvement was the consistency of my command. I feel close to where I want to be. I think I threw more quality strikes tonight."

Darvish did a particularly good job against the Tigers' two biggest weapons. Miguel Cabrera and Fielder were 0-for-5 with a walk against him.

"He's very good," Cabrera said. "He mixed his pitches very good -- fastball, breaking ball, slider. I think he threw a couple changeups today. He did a very good job to stop our offense today. Today, he was very good. I think he's only going to get better."

Right now, the Rangers' starting pitching has been good enough to get them off to the best start in the American League.

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