Darvish picks up 50th victory of major league career

It took Yu Darvish a bit longer than expected to get his 50th career win.

The Texas Rangers didn’t bank on taking this much time to reach .500, either.

Darvish reached his milestone with nine strikeouts in seven innings, and the Rangers beat the Philadelphia Phillies 5-1 on Tuesday night to stretch the majors’ longest active winning streak to seven games.

“I think we’re doing a great job with the starters,” Darvish said through an interpreter. “But at the same time, as a team, we’re playing good baseball. That’s why we’re winning games.”

Darvish became the sixth Japanese pitcher to reach 50 career victories. In his 109th start, he joined Hideo Nomo (123), Hiroki Kuroda (79), Hisashi Iwakuma (63), Daisuke Matsuzaka (56) and Tomo Ohka (51).

Darvish likely would have reached the mark sooner, but he missed the entire 2015 season and some of 2016 after having Tommy John surgery.

On Tuesday, Darvish mixed up his pitches and continued his dominance in interleague play, lowering his career ERA to 2.19 in 14 starts against the National League.

“Arguably the best slider in baseball, in my opinion,” Phillies manager Pete Mackanin said. “When that’s the first time a team sees him, it’s got to be tough, especially the way he located it.”

Darvish used his slider and curveball in key moments.

After cruising through the first five innings, he ran into trouble in the sixth inning, but struck out Freddy Galvis on a slider and Odubel Herrera on a curveball. He preserved a two-run lead by striking out Brock Stassi on a curveball with runners at first and second after he allowed his only run on an RBI single by Freddy Galvis in the seventh inning.

“I thought that (he had) good use of all his pitches tonight,” Rangers manager Jeff Banister said. “He really got the curveball in play tonight for some big strikeouts.”

Nomar Mazara had a solo homer in the first, and Mike Napoli hit a two-run shot in the eighth. Napoli, who came in hitting .165, went 3-for-3.

Closer Matt Bush struck out one in a perfect ninth after Napoli’s homer eliminated a save situation.

Phillies starter Jared Eickhoff (0-4) struck out eight and allowed seven hits in his first career start against the franchise that drafted him in 2011. Eickhoff was traded to Philadelphia in a deal that included LHP Cole Hamels in 2015.

Robinson Chirinos had an RBI groundout in the second inning and Jonathan Lucroy had an RBI double in the fifth to give the Rangers a 3-0 lead after Mazara’s homer.

Texas’ win streak is the second-longest in the big leagues this season. The Yankees won eight straight games between April 9 and 17.

“We didn’t start the year how we wanted to and we all knew that,” Mazara said. “We were struggling at the beginning. Everybody’s going to struggle at some point in the season.”

Astros 12, Marlins 2

In Miami, unbeaten ace Dallas Keuchel became the first seven-game winner in the majors despite pitching only five innings, his shortest outing this season.

Norichika Aoki went 1-for-2 for the Astros, while Miami pinch hitter Ichiro Suzuki grounded out in the seventh.

Cubs 9, Reds 5

In Chicago, slumping sluggers Anthony Rizzo and Kyle Schwarber homered, rookie Ian Happ connected again and the Cubs defeated the Reds, giving Joe Maddon his 1,000th win as an MLB manager.

Maddon became the eighth active skipper to reach that milestone.

Chicago reliever Koji Uehara allowed two hits and two runs in one inning. He struck out one.

Orioles 13 Tigers 11 (13)

In Detroit, Chris Davis homered in the 12th inning and again in the 13th, and Baltimore finally held on after the second one.

Nationals 8, Pirates 4

In Pittsburgh, Bryce Harper belted his 13th home run, Ryan Zimmerman smacked a two-run double to add to his major league-leading RBI total and Washington held off the struggling Pirates.

Rockies 7, Twins 3

In Minneapolis, Charlie Blackmon hit a towering two-run homer during a four-run sixth inning and finished with three hits to lead Colorado.

Angels 7, White Sox 6 (11)

In Anaheim, Cameron Maybin had five hits, including a tying double in the 11th inning, and Albert Pujols singled home the winning run moments later.

Red Sox 6, Cardinals 3

In St. Louis, Mookie Betts homered and drove in two runs, Jackie Bradley Jr. also went deep and Boston beat the Cardinals in the opener of a two-game interleague series.

Yankees 7, Royals 1

In Kansas City, Gary Sanchez hit a three-run homer, Chris Carter added a two-run shot and CC Sabathia got back on track.

Giants 2, Dodgers 1

In San Francisco, Brandon Belt homered for the fourth time in six games and scored the tiebreaking run on Brandon Crawford’s single in the sixth.

Diamondbacks 5, Mets 4

In Phoenix, Yasmany Tomas homered against reeling New York again and Zack Greinke (5-2) pitched Arizona to a victory.

Rays 6, Indians 4

In Cleveland, Corey Dickerson hit two of Tampa Bay’s season-high five home runs.

Athletics 9, Mariners 6

In Seattle, Matt Joyce smacked a two-run homer and Mark Canha added a three-run shot in a five-run ninth inning.

Braves 9, Blue Jays 5

In Toronto, Dansby Swanson hit a tiebreaking homer in the seventh inning, Freddie Freeman also had a two-run shot and Atlanta beat the Blue Jays, sweeping their two-game series.

Brewers 6, Padres 2

In San Diego, Eric Sogard had a career-high four hits and drove in a run, and Jimmy Nelson struck out eight in six-plus innings and hit an RBI single.

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