Darvish hopes to follow up near perfecto against Weaver, Angels

Yu Darvish was nearly perfect his last time out.

The Japanese righty will try to follow up his brilliant season debut on Sunday when the Texas Rangers conclude a three-game series with the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim at Rangers Ballpark.

Darvish came within an eyelash of throwing a perfect game on Tuesday in Houston, but Marwin Gonzalez spoiled his bid at history with a single back up the middle with two outs in the ninth.

"When you're throwing the ball as well as he's throwing, I thought he would get it," Texas manager Ron Washington said. "It just wasn't meant to be. He had all his pitches working -- curve and slider, splitter, he had a good sinker working, moved his fastball around. He threw the kitchen sink at them and he threw them all over the plate. He dominated them."

Darvish, who became the first Texas pitcher to lose a no-no with two outs in the ninth, struck out a career-high 14 batters over 111 pitches. The 14 strikeouts were the most by Rangers pitcher since Nolan Ryan fanned 14 back in 1991.

It was the ninth time in his first 30 major league starts that Darvish had struck out at least 10 batters in a game.

Darvish, though, has been battling a blister on his finger since the start, but insists he will be ready to go on Sunday.

"My approach is going to be the same no matter who I face," said Darvish, who was 3-1 with a 4.23 ERA in six starts against the Angels last year. "I am going to do my job."

Opposing him will be righty Jered Weaver, who wasn't perfect his first time out, but was pretty close. Weaver did not get a decision against the Cincinnati Reds on Monday, despite allowing just a run and two hits in six innings of his team's 3-1 win.

Weaver has faced the Rangers 30 times and is 13-7 with a 3.61 ERA against them.

"I try not to get too caught up in matchups," Weaver said. "It'll be a challenge facing these guys, as it always is. They're a good club with some dangerous hitters."

Los Angeles rebounded from a loss in Friday's opener on Saturday, as Albert Pujols hit two home runs and finished with three RBI to lead the Angels to an 8-4 win.

Mark Trumbo added a two-run homer and Peter Bourjos knocked in a solo shot for the Angels, who saw starter Tommy Hanson (1-0) allow three runs on six hits over six innings.

"I felt pretty comfortable at the plate," said Pujols. "When you feel comfortable at the plate, you don't feel like you have to chase balls. You see the ball pretty good, and that's what I did today. Hopefully, I can continue to do that."

Josh Hamilton continued to hear the boos from the Arlington crowd and is just 1-for-20 on the season with 10 strikeouts.

"We're only five games into the season. Let the guy settle down," said Pujols. "Let's see where we are a month from now. You guys said that last year about me and I proved a lot of people wrong."

Mitch Moreland, Ian Kinsler and Nelson Cruz each hit solo homers for the Rangers, who had a three-game winning streak stopped. David Murphy had an RBI triple in defeat.

Texas starter Matt Harrison (0-2) gave up five runs on eight hits and walked four over five innings.

"There's no excuses," said Rangers manager Ron Washington. "You take back a few pitches that you didn't hit his spots with, and maybe it's a different ball game. But today, they came out and jumped on us. They're capable of swinging the bat. He made some mistakes with location and they made him pay for it."

On the milestone front, Texas closer Joe Nathan is now one save shy of 300 for his career.