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May 6, 2013

All swept up

ARLINGTON, Texas — Yu Darvish struck out 14 and Adrian Beltre hit an RBI single with two outs in the ninth inning as the Texas Rangers beat Boston 4-3 Sunday, completing a three-game sweep and matching the Red Sox for the best record in the majors.

The Rangers, Red Sox and St. Louis all have 20-11 marks.

Beltre lined a hit to right-center off Clayton Mortensen (0-2) that sent home Elvis Andrus, who had reached on a two-out single and moved up on a wild pitch. The Red Sox then opted to intentionally walk Lance Berkman.

Darvish matched a career high for strikeouts and left after seven innings with the score tied. Rangers closer Joe Nathan (1-0), the third reliever, worked around a walk and a hit in the ninth.

While Darvish had 14 strikeouts for the second time this season, the right-hander from Japan allowed multiple homers in a game for only the second time in his 36 starts for the Rangers. David Ortiz and David Ross homered in the first two innings.

The game was 3-3 when Darvish threw the last of his career-high 127 pitches to end the seventh, denying him a chance at his sixth victory to equal the most in the majors. He did up his majors-best strikeout total to 72.

His other 14-strikeout game for Darvish came in his first start this season, when he retired the first 26 Houston batters and was within one out of a perfect game before giving up a single April 2. The last time an American League pitcher had multiple 14-K games in a season was 2000, when Pedro Martinez had three and Mike Mussina two.

Red Sox left-handed starter Jon Lester, with a 4-0 record, also got a no decision after seven strikeouts in six innings. Like Darvish, he was hurt by two home runs.

The Rangers got on the board in the fourth on Mitch Moreland’s fourth homer, an opposite-field shot that landed only a couple of rows into the left-field seats — and just inside the pole.

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