ARLINGTON, Texas – Yu Darvish is feeling right at home in Texas, where he's already done something only one other major league pitcher has accomplished in the past half-century.
The Japanese standout has won his first seven career home starts after the Rangers' 7-5 victory over the Detroit Tigers on Tuesday night. Overall, he matched the American League lead with his 10th victory less than halfway through his first season in the majors.
Darvish (10-4) struck out 10 in seven innings for his fourth double-digit strikeout game. After giving up two runs the first four batters, he settled down and got into a nice groove — something he has already done a few times with the Rangers after sluggish starts.
"It seemed like the longer the game went, the better he got," manager Ron Washington said. "He was trying to get rhythm again those first few innings. They put some runs on the board, but we came back and answered, and he continued to pound the strike zone. All of a sudden his fastball was crisper, his breaking ball was crisper."
The Rangers said, according to Elias, the only other pitcher in the past 50 years to win his first seven career home starts was Carlos Perez for the Montreal Expos — eight in 1995. Kenny Rogers is the only other pitcher to win seven consecutive starts at Rangers Ballpark at any point.
The only walk Darvish allowed was Austin Jackson's to start the game, though the big right-hander hit Miguel Cabrera in the left earflap of his helmet with a 92-mph fastball before Prince Fielder's double quickly put the Tigers up 2-0.
Darvish threw 113 pitches on a night when the game-time temperature was 103 degrees, and finished strong. He retired the last seven batters he faced, striking out the last two.
"That's one of the top high-level lineups in the league and I was looking forward to facing these hitters," said Darvish, who didn't feel overwhelmed by the heat either. "My teammates still tell me it's not as hot as it's going to get. ... Even though it was hot, I didn't feel too uncomfortable."
The AL West-leading Rangers went ahead to stay with a four-run fourth. They were up 5-3 after consecutive RBI singles by Yorvit Torrealba and Brandon Snyder — the Nos. 8 and 9 batters in the lineup.
Josh Hamilton later homered for the second night in a row, his leadoff shot in the seventh was his 24th of the season to match Toronto's Jose Bautista for the major league lead. Hamilton has a majors-best 67 RBIs.
Prince Fielder drove in four runs for the Tigers, including a two-run double in the first. Three innings later, when the temperature was still in triple digits, Fielder hit his 12th homer to make it 3-1.
"We did a decent job against Darvish. If you can get five runs off him you're doing pretty well," Tigers manager Jim Leyland said. "He has good secondary pitches. He looks like a breaking-ball pitcher."
Drew Smyly (2-3) was activated from the disabled list to start after being out since June 11 with a blister on his left middle finger. The lefty struck out three while allowing six runs and eight hits over 4 2-3 innings.
Ian Kinsler led off the Texas first with his first homer since June 8.
Adrian Beltre had a one-out infield single in the fourth and scored on Michael Young's triple to left-center. Nelson Cruz followed with an RBI single and then stole second base before Torreabla's hit. Cruz scored the tiebreaking run when he slid around catcher Alex Avila's swiping tag attempt and a bat to reach out and touch the plate.
Joe Nathan worked a perfect ninth for his 17th save in 18 chances. Mike Adams escaped trouble in the eighth, when the first two batters reached before deep fly balls by Cabrera and Delmon Young sandwiched an RBI grounder by Fielder.
Darvish joined teammate Matt Harrison and Tampa Bay left-hander David Price as the American League's only 10-game winners. It was Darvish's last start before the All-Star rosters will be announced Sunday.
"A job of a starting pitcher is quality starts and keeping the team in the game," Darvish said. "It's been iffy at times, but I just think overall being able to do that, the result is that I got those wins. Overall as a starting pitcher, I think I am doing my role, that job."
But Darvish had a bit of a rough start, even though Detroit scored three fewer first-inning runs than the previous night.
Cabrera dropped to the ground and was sprawled out in a sitting position when he looked toward the mound after getting hit in the head. A trainer came out and checked on Cabrera, who appeared a bit dazed as he got up and walked toward first base. He then scored from first on Fielder's drive into the left-center gap.
"He has a good fastball, and he's sneaky with his delivery. He has a plethora of different pitches," said Quintin Berry, who had an RBI single for the Tigers. "We got a couple of runs early and felt good about it."
Notes: Beltre is hitting .500 (22 of 44) in his past 12 games. ... Avila was back in the Tigers lineup after missing the series opener with tendinitis in his left knee. He had a double in the fifth and scored on Berry's single. ... Tigers closer Jose Valverde, who hadn't pitched since June 15 because of a sprained right wrist, pitched a perfect eighth. ... Mets knuckleballer R.A. Dickey is the only other pitcher in the majors with four 10-strikeout games. ... During a kiss-cam segment between innings, Rangers president Nolan Ryan and his wife Ruth were shown on the video board with a message wishing them a Happy 45th anniversary. Also shown was a picture of the couple on their wedding day.