CLEVELAND – A glaring problem cost Yu Darvish and the Texas Rangers.
Ubaldo Jimenez pitched seven scoreless innings and Asdrubal Cabrera hit a two-run double after the Rangers lost an infield popup in the sun as the Cleveland Indians handed Darvish his first major league loss, 4-2 Sunday.
Jason Kipnis homered off Darvish (4-1), who struck out a career-high 11 over six innings. Jimenez (3-2) walked four in the first three innings but settled down and permitted only two hits.
Johnny Damon's pop fell for a leadoff single in the third, leading to a three-run inning.
"If the ball goes into the sun, what can you do?" Darvish said through an interpreter.
"If this was the first loss ever in my life I would feel different," he said. "But I have experienced many losses. So now, I just prepare for my next game."
Darvish signed a $56 million, six-year contract with Texas in January. The Rangers also bid nearly $52 million to gain negotiating rights to the 25-year-old right-hander, who was 93-38 with a 1.99 ERA in Japan.
"He pitched well enough to keep us in the game, but we didn't support him with runs," Rangers manager Ron Washington said. "Sometimes you can throw well and not get results."
Chris Perez pitched the ninth for his 11th consecutive save. He allowed one hit and was helped by a diving catch by right fielder Shin-Soo Choo on a sinking liner by pinch-hitter Adrian Beltre.
The Indians took the series from the two-time defending AL champions, who went 21-4 against them the previous three seasons. Cleveland has won three straight series and leads the AL Central.
"We played a terrific series," Indians manager Manny Acta said. "Anytime you take two of three from a team like that, it's very encouraging."
Jimenez was helped out of a two-on, one-out jam in the first when catcher Carlos Santana threw out Josh Hamilton trying to advance to second on a pitch in the dirt. Jimenez then struck out Michael Young with a runner on third.
In the third, Jimenez issued three straight two-out walks, but got out of it when Young grounded out.
"If we could have put runs on the board when we had opportunities early, it may have been different," Washington said.
Jimenez struck out six and walked five overall, using a good breaking ball to put away Texas hitters. He retired 10 in a row before issuing a one-out walk to Mitch Moreland in the seventh. Jimenez finished off his day by striking out Yorvit Torrealba and Alberto Gonzalez.
"He was effectively wild," Washington said, adding that he's seen Jimenez shut down other good hitting lineups.
"That was no fluke. He's done it before."
Texas scored twice in the eighth off reliever Tony Sipp to get within 4-2.
Darvish had a little bad luck and fell behind 3-0 in the third.
Second baseman Ian Kinsler never saw Damon's popup, which dropped about 15 feet from him. Darvish walked Kipnis, then Cabrera grounded a double inches inside the first-base bag, scoring both runners.
"It went up in the air, into the sun, and dropped," an upset Kinsler said before walking away from reporters.
Acta's mood was much brighter after Cleveland's second straight Sunday win aided by the sun. One week ago, nine-time Gold Glove outfielder Torii Hunter lost a fly ball hit by Cabrera in a win over the Los Angeles Angels.
"We got another sun ball," Acta said. "It was a Sunday sun ball back-to-back."
After Cabrera's double, Darvish struck out Travis Hafner and Santana before Choo hit a grounder to the left side. Rangers shortstop Elvis Andrus made a backhand stop in the hole and a leaping throw to first, but sailed the ball into the stands. Choo got credit for a single, and Cabrera scored on the error to make it 3-0.
"That ball dropped and the next thing you know, they had three runs," Washington said.
"But all of our problems could be solved if we would just drive in some runs in situations. The name of the game is scoring runs."
Kipnis hit his fifth homer leading off the fifth, extending his hitting streak to 10 games. It was only the second homer allowed by Darvish.
Darvish gave up three earned runs and six hits, walking four.
"What impresses me the most is his secondary stuff," Acta said. "That slider and curveball, guys take some awful swings against him. We have a lot of guys in the league who can throw in the mid-90s, but not many who can spin the ball like that."
NOTES: Andrus went 1 for 2 with two walks. He has hit safely in all 26 career games against Cleveland. ... Cabrera is hitting .385 (25 of 65) over his last 16 games. ... Texas' bullpen has a 1.62 ERA over its last 12 games. ... Beltre's three-run homer in the 11th inning Saturday was the first allowed by a Cleveland pitcher to a pinch-hitter in extra innings since Hall of Famer Brooks Robinson connected it for Baltimore off LHP Dave LaRoche on April 19, 1977. It was the first pinch-hit homer given up in extra innings by an Indians pitcher at home since RHP Frank Funk served one up to Kansas City's Leo Posada on June 12, 1961.