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Cruz's second three-run homer in two nights

ANAHEIM -- The apparent mismatch of an All-Star pitcher going against a rookie making his first Major League start proved to be exactly that. In this case, David turned out to be no match for Goliath.

Yu Darvish pitched six scoreless innings and Nelson Cruz hit a three-run homer in a nine-run fourth as the Rangers defeated the Angels, 11-3, at Angel Stadium on Wednesday night. Angels left-hander Michael Roth, pressed unexpectedly into duty for this one, took the loss.

The victory allowed the first-place Rangers to take two of three from the Angels. The Rangers, who won the first game of the series on Monday night, are 17-0-2 in their last 19 series in which they won the opening game. The Rangers went down in 11 innings on Tuesday night, but they remain the only team in the Majors that has yet to lose consecutive games.

"It's always big to win two of three against any division opponent," David Murphy said. "We're just continuing to play good baseball, whether it's at home or on the road, no matter what's up, we're consistently playing good all-around baseball."

Cruz, with a grand slam on Sunday and a three-run home run on Tuesday, now has three home runs and 10 RBIs in his last four games. Cruz also has 14 home runs in his last 35 games against the Angels but this one came with a twist. Cruz cracked his bat while driving the ball deep over the center-field wall.

"That was crazy, man," Cruz said. "But it's coming at the right time against these guys. To be able to take two out of three against them is good. It's early but we know from experience every game counts."

Darvish, with his best fastball of the season and a particularly good slider, was dominating almost from the outset and has not allowed a run in his last 18 innings. He allowed three runs in the first inning of a 3-1 loss to the Mariners on April 12, pitched seven innings against them in a 7-0 victory on Friday and now this one against the Angels.

"I felt really well tonight especially," Darvish said. "I had some luck in my last outing, but right now I'm just focused on my next game."

Darvish allowed just three singles and two walks while striking out 11 over 100 pitches. It's the 11th time in 34 career starts that Darvish has struck out 10-plus batters in a game. He leads the American League with 49 strikeouts over five starts and is 4-1 with a 1.65 ERA.

"We're playing good baseball, and it starts with the tempo of the game being set by the guy on the mound," manager Ron Washington said. "That allows the offense to get into the flow of the game. If the guy on the mound allows us to get into a groove, good things are going to happen."

Roth was starting in place of Tommy Hanson, who went on bereavement leave earlier in the week. A year ago, Roth was pitching at the University of South Carolina before the Angels took him in the ninth round of the First-Year Player Draft. He made just four Major League relief appearances before starting on Wednesday night and worked through three scoreless innings before the Rangers went to work in the fourth.

"He's a little funky and throws strikes," third baseman Adrian Beltre said. "We've never faced him before so it was a little difficult at first. After that, guys started having good at-bats and doing a better job ."

Beltre walked to lead off the inning and Cruz moved him to third with a single to right. A.J. Pierzynski singled to right to bring home a run, and Craig Gentry walked to load the bases. Murphy followed with a single to right to drive home Cruz, while Pierzynski was held at third.

Roth struck out Mitch Moreland and Angels manager Mike Scioscia brought in right-hander David Carpenter to face the right-handed hitters at the top of the Rangers' lineup. He failed at the task. Ian Kinsler walked to force in a run. Elvis Andrus struck out, but Lance Berkman singled up the middle for two more runs and give the Rangers a 5-0 lead. Carpenter then walked Beltre, while also throwing a wild pitch that brought home Kinsler. Cruz finished it off with a home run to center.

"Whenever you walk the leadoff guy that's never a good thing," Roth said. "I made some OK pitches, they put some good swings on it, but two walks is what really killed me."

This was the Rangers' biggest inning since scoring nine runs against the Orioles on Aug. 22 of last season. But it was also their biggest outburst on the road since a 10-run eighth inning against the Orioles on Aug. 22, 2007, during Texas' record-breaking 30-3 victory.

Lance Berkman added a two-run home run in the sixth.

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