Playoff-hopeful Rangers hand Darvish ball vs. Astros

Yu Darvish tries to get the Texas Rangers back into the wild card mix on Tuesday when they continue a three-game series with the Houston Astros at Rangers Ballpark in Arlington.

Darvish snapped a four-start losing streak and won for the first time in seven starts on Thursday against Tampa Bay, as he held the Rays to a pair of runs in five innings. He also walked six batters and struck out four to improve to 13-9 to go along with a 2.81 ERA.

"Like I have always been saying, a game in April is no different than in September," Darvish said. "My job is to do the best I can and pitch the best I can."

Darvish is 3-1 with a 2.73 ERA in four outings against Houston this year. He also came within an out of a perfect game against them back on Aug. 15, when he struck out 15 batters.

Texas gained a half-game in the playoff chase on Monday, as Alex Rios hit for the cycle to support Derek Holland's seventh career shutout, with the duo leading the Rangers to an easy 12-0 triumph.

Rios finished 4-for-4 with four RBI and three runs scored to spearhead a 14- hit Texas onslaught, becoming the seventh Ranger to record a cycle and first since Adrian Beltre against Minnesota on Aug. 24, 2012.

"The most important thing is that we won tonight," Rios said.

Elvis Andrus added three hits and an RBI, while Leonys Martin socked a three- run double to help Texas snap a seven-game home losing streak and deal the hapless Astros a 10th consecutive defeat.

The win also closed the Rangers within a game of Cleveland for the second wild card spot in the AL.

Holland (10-9) halted a career-long eight-start winless drought by scattering six singles and a walk while striking out nine. The lefty received plenty of help from a lineup that battered Jordan Lyles (7-9) for seven runs and seven hits in the Astros starter's three-inning stint.

"They took it to us," Houston manager Bo Porter said.

The loss was the 106th of the season for Houston, one shy of matching the club record set a year ago.

Hoping to avoid that dubious distinction on Tuesday, the Astros will turn to rookie Brad Peacock, who is 5-5 with a 5.24 ERA this season. Peacock, though, has had some success away from home and is 3-0 with a 1.40 ERA over his last three road starts.

Texas is 15-2 against the Astros this season.