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TEX@BOS: Darvish fans nine Red Sox in Rangers' loss

Rangers right-hander Yu Darvish took a step in the right direction his last time out. He'll look to remain on track in Friday's series opener against the Blue Jays.

After going 10-5 with a 3.59 ERA before the All-Star break, Darvish is 2-3 with a 7.11 ERA so far in the second half. On Sunday, he won for just the second time in a span of seven starts, holding the Tigers to three runs on six hits over 6 2/3 innings, striking out eight and walking five. Darvish has issued 15 walks in his last three outings and 26 in his last six.

"Everything is going in a good direction, and I want to continue to do that in my next start," Darvish said. "Mentally, I'm in a good state; physically as well. ... I'm trying to go back to my true self and also trying new things. Those are both things that are going to be beneficial, so I think I'm going to take both of those into consideration going forward."

Darvish has beaten the Blue Jays both times he's faced them this year, going 2-0 with a 3.00 ERA. He improved to 4-0 by giving up one run on four hits, striking out nine and walking two in seven innings of a 4-1 win on April 30 and moved to 7-2 on the year after giving up three runs on seven hits over seven innings during a 12-6 victory on May 27.

Having lost their last three games, the Blue Jays will counter with J.A. Happ, who won for the first time with his new team since being traded by the Astros in a 10-player deal on July 20. The lefty made four appearances out of the bullpen before making two starts for Toronto, losing to the Rays on Aug. 7 but beating the Yankees on Sunday. In that outing, Happ gave up four runs on six hits, one of them a homer from Robinson Cano, over 5 2/3 innings. He struck out four and walked none in a 10-7 victory.

"I felt fine," Happ said after the win. "The one to Cano really hurt -- frustrating, because I felt like I was making good pitches the whole game and then left a few up and got hurt with it."

Rangers: Kinsler gets a breather
• Ian Kinsler, hitlesss in his last 13 at-bats and batting .114 in his last nine games, was out of the Rangers' lineup for Thursday's 10-6 win over the Yankees. He was ejected in the eighth inning of Wednesday's 3-2 loss

"It looks like [Kinsler]'s a little sluggish," manager Ron Washington said. "He's missing pitches that he normally hits. His bat looks a little heavy. I'm going to give him a day off after a night game, and maybe that will rejuvenate him."

• Washington expressed concern about his team playing on the artificial surface at Rogers Centre this weekend. The Rangers lost two of three games against the Blue Jays in Toronto earlier this season but swept them in a three-game series at Rangers Ballpark during May.

"It's tough, but we only have three games there, so somebody will have to suck it up," Washington said.

Six of the Rangers' next 23 games will be played on an artificial surface; they'll also travel to St. Petersburg for a three-game series against the Rays in the beginning of September.

Blue Jays: Bautista inching closer to rehab assignment
• The banged-up Blue Jays finally have a bit of good news with the announcement that star right fielder Jose Bautista could begin a rehab assignment as early as Monday.

Out since July 16, when he strained his left wrist during a swing against the Yankees, Bautista was scheduled to spend time in the batting cages and take swings with off a tee and with a fungo bat.

"After [Thursday] and potentially an off-day [Friday] then it's assumed at this point, or tentatively planned, that he would take live BP on the field for a couple of days and then we're looking at getting him in games after that," Blue Jays manager John Farrell said.

Bautista will reportedly take batting practice on the field Saturday and Sunday and would likely need about three or four games in the Minors to be ready.

• Third baseman Brett Lawrie is expected to appear in rehab games for Class A Dunedin over the weekend and could return to Toronto's lineup by Tuesday.

• Edwin Encarnacion was scratched from Toronto's lineup Thursday because of soreness in his left forearm and shoulder. He attempted to make a diving catch in left field on Wednesday against the White Sox when the injury happened. He is listed as day to day.

Worth noting
• The Rangers are 4-2 against the Blue Jays this season heading into this three-game set, having swept Toronto when the two clubs last met. The last time Texas had a winning record against the Blue Jays was in 2006, when it won four of six. Since then, the Rangers are 25-29 against the Blue Jays.

• Geovany Soto has two hits in three career at-bats against Happ. He's the only Rangers player with multiple at-bats against Happ.

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