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MIA@TEX: Darvish stymies Marlins in first MLB shutout

Rangers ace Yu Darvish has a case of amnesia -- at least when it comes to his last start. The right-hander walked a season-high five on Tuesday, giving up seven runs, four earned, over five innings in a 10-6 loss to the Athletics in Oakland.

"I don't remember it. I don't know where Oakland is," Darvish joked through an interpreter Friday, days after his career record against the A's dropped to 1-8. "I'm ready for my next start."

His next start comes Sunday against the Angels, a team against which he's 7-1 with a 3.82 ERA in 11 career starts. Darvish (7-3, 2.39 ERA) last faced the Angels on May 4, going 6 1/3 innings and giving up three runs and seven hits, as the Rangers went on to win a blowout, 14-3. He struck out nine and walked just one en route to the win, though he did allow a pair of home runs.

Darvish won't be surprised if the Angels, who were third in the American League in runs prior to Saturday night's 3-2, 10-inning win, makes an adjustment.

"I think their approach is going to be different than last time. I just have to make changes," Darvish said.

He'll face Angels right-hander Matt Shoemaker. On Tuesday in Cleveland, Shoemaker posted perhaps the best start of his career. He was an inning away from his first complete game, but it started raining hard while he warmed up for the ninth.

The downpour caused an 11-minute delay. When the game resumed, Angels manager Mike Scioscia chose to use closer Ernesto Frieri to finish out Anaheim's 9-3 win.

Shoemaker (4-1, 3.83 ERA) still struck out a career-high 10. He allowed five hits, two runs and walked just one while tossing 68 of 94 pitches for strikes. The performance likely helped his odds of staying in the rotation when southpaw Tyler Skaggs (strained right hamstring) comes off the 15-day disabled list.

"He's one of those pitchers, when he's out there, he feels like Nolan Ryan," Scioscia said of Shoemaker. "He makes pitches. He feels like he can get anybody out. Although he doesn't throw as hard as some, he can keep guys off balance as well as anybody. He knows how to pitch."

Rangers: Choice all or nothing
Going into Saturday, rookie outfielder Michael Choice had a .196 batting average and just four hits in his past 27 at-bats.

Those four hits were home runs.

"The fact he's getting some key hits and RBIs, I'm going to continue to give him an opportunity to figure out what he is at the Major league level," manager Ron Washington said. "He's being productive. Not much of an average, but producing good."

So yes, the power is there -- his eight homers tie Adrian Beltre for the team lead -- but Choice hasn't been able to show much balance at the plate. The 24-year-old seems to think his average will improve when he sees pitchers multiple times.

"It'll come. I've only had 160 at-bats, a lot of infrequent at-bats," he said. "Every night, I'm facing pitchers I've never faced before."

Choice went 0-for-3 with a walk and two strikeouts in Saturday night's loss to drop his average to .193.

Angels: Pujols hoping to return to lineup
Albert Pujols sat out Saturday with a stiff lower back but could return to the lineup for Sunday's finale. Pujols tweaked the back Friday while running home on an Erick Aybar single.

"I was three-fourths of the way to the plate, two steps from home plate, when it kind of locked on me," he said.

The 34-year-old slugger is hitting .255 with 16 HRs and 44 RBIs in his third season with the Angels, though he posted just a .224 batting average and .672 OPS from May 20 to June 20.

Pujols said he doesn't believe in slumps.

"If you train your mind to concentrate on the negative, it's never going to come out right. It's what you put in your brain," he said. "When you think about struggles, you just put more pressure on yourself. So many times in this game you hit balls hard and can't catch a break. Then you hit a 20-hopper [for a single] and all of a sudden you break out. They say the game evens out. This game always takes more than it gives back."

Worth noting
• Rangers DH Alex Rios was ejected in the fourth inning of Saturday's game for arguing with home-plate umpire Vic Carapazza. Choice followed suit in the 10th, arguing a called strike three.

• The Angels released 42-year-old designated hitter Raul Ibanez on Saturday. In 57 games, Ibanez was hitting just .157 with three homers and 21 RBIs. Rookie DH C.J. Cron is expected to receive a majority of his at-bats.

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