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TEX@SD: Darvish fans eight in ninth win of the year

SAN DIEGO -- It was a win representative of the Rangers' season: a few guys were missing, the lineup wasn't firing on all cylinders and there were a few mistakes here and there. But at the end of the day, the Rangers got the job done, riding Yu Darvish's eight-inning gem to a 4-2 win to cap a series sweep of the Padres.

"We're doing whatever the games say we have to do," Rangers manager Ron Washington said. "And we just do it. ... We were able to play some baseball today. ... It wasn't our best baseball, but it was good baseball."

The baseball the Rangers played Wednesday was hardly recognizable from the kind they played in Tuesday night's game, a 12-hit, seven-run offensive explosion. Thanks in large part to the strong performance of Padres starter Anthony Bass, Wednesday's game required small-ball and execution, a brand of ball Texas seemed just as comfortable with.

After Bass gave his team a two-run lead with a two-run single in the second inning, the righty mowed down the Rangers' lineup, yielding just one run in five innings. That one run was Texas-built, as David Murphy reached on a walk and got himself into scoring position by stealing second base. Shortstop Alberto Gonzalez, filling in for regular Elvis Andrus, who had a scheduled day off, then delivered a two-out single to bring home the run.

Bass, who had thrown just 60 pitches, was forced to leave the game prior to the sixth with right shoulder inflammation. That left the door ajar for the traditional Texas catalysts -- Michael Young and Josh Hamilton -- to assume their usual positions in the center of crucial Texas rallies.

Young hit a one-out single in the sixth, and Hamilton followed that up with a booming double. After an intentional walk to Adrian Beltre, Nelson Cruz hustled out what would have been an inning-ending double play to allow the tying run to score. A walk to Craig Gentry then loaded the bases, and catcher Yorvit Torrealba worked another free pass to push home the go-ahead run.

"That was satisfying," Washington said. "Today was about execution. When we had opportunities to execute, we did it."

Even the Rangers' final run was the product of some small-ball savvy, as Ian Kinsler followed up a single with back-to-back steals of second and third, getting himself in position to score on a sacrifice fly by Young.

The two-run cushion was more than enough for Darvish, who settled in after giving up the two runs to his counterpart in the second. Darvish scattered five hits and struck out eight in his eight-inning outing.

"The first two innings, it looked like he was trying to find his rhythm," Washington said. "From that point on, he wasn't going to be denied. His breaking ball came, his cutter came, he moved the ball around the zone pretty good. He did a great job."

The win was Darvish's ninth of the season, tops in the Majors among rookies this year. After struggling a bit in late May and early June, the Japanese phenom has now strung together two strong outings, both of which got off to rocky starts before he finished with a flourish.

"Mentally, physically, and mechanically, there was no difference from the beginning of the game to the end," Darvish said through his interpreter. "I think it was just going through the game ... getting into the rhythm of the game that allowed that."

"We had some good at-bats, and Anthony had the big hit, but as the game went on, he got stronger," Padres manager Bud Black said. "He threw his pitches in and around the plate. His secondary pitches were crisper, too."

Darvish gave up just two hits after that troublesome second, and handed the ball to Joe Nathan, who worked a scoreless ninth en route to his 15th save. As if the win weren't enough for Darvish, he also picked up his first Major League hit in the game, a broken-bat single to right in his first at-bat.

"I think if I was a hitter, I'd feel extreme joy," Darvish said of the hit. "But since I'm a pitcher, I don't really feel it as much. ... I was excited to hit. I enjoyed all of my at-bats."

Darvish's knock was one of seven the Rangers had in the game, each from a different member of the lineup. That lineup has gotten the job done for six straight games, and 10 of the team's last 12, rocketing the Rangers to 16 games above .500 and a 5 1/2 game lead in the American League West.

"We're not playing our best baseball -- we're playing good baseball," Washington said. "Believe me, it can get better."

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