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TEX@TOR: Arencibia rips three-run homer to left field

TORONTO -- Perhaps the All-Star break was all the Rangers needed to get back on track.

Having Yu Darvish on the mound didn't hurt, either.

The Rangers ace helped Texas snap a season-high eight-game losing skid by hurling 6 2/3 innings of one-run ball, while Adrian Beltre and J.P. Arencibia homered in a 5-1 victory over the Blue Jays to kick off a three-game set at Rogers Centre on Friday night.

"He's phenomenal," Arencibia said of Darvish. "He had a pretty blemish-free night."

Darvish had a rough stretch leading up to the break -- he was 1-3 with a 5.40 ERA over his previous five starts -- but had little trouble with an injured-riddled Blue Jays lineup, looking like the No. 1 starter Rangers fans have become accustomed to in two-plus seasons.

Up until a seventh-inning hiccup, in which he had a shutout snapped on a Colby Rasmus solo homer, Darvish was dominant.

The right-hander walked three, allowed five hits and punched out a season-high tying 12 batters, marking the sixth time this year he has recorded a double-digit strikeout game. Rays lefty David Price (eight) is the only pitcher with more 10-plus strikeout games this season.

Darvish, who entered the contest averaging a Major League-leading 11.26 strikeouts per nine innings, lowered his ERA to 2.88 and improved to 9-5, while recording his 12th quality start of the season in 18 outings.

In two starts against the Blue Jays this year, Darvish has allowed three runs while striking out 23. The Japanese pitcher has struck out 154 this season -- tied with Felix Hernandez of the Mariners for third in the Majors -- and trails only Price and Washington's Stephen Strasburg.

"We were able to get a win and hopefully we are able to show a lot of new baseball in this second half of the season," Darvish said through interpreter Kenji Nimura.

The 27-year-old Darvish was regularly missing Blue Jays bats with his slider and worked his way out of the few jams he encountered before Toronto touched him up late.

Led by Darvish, the Rangers won their second game this month -- and for the fourth time in 26 contests -- to improve to 2-12 in July.

"It started on the mound," Rangers manager Ron Washington said. "In the middle innings he found his breaking ball. He got them looking for breaking balls, and he was able to shoot some fastballs in there. He was out there thinking, he was out there competing hard. That's what it took."

Neal Cotts, who relieved Darvish with runners on second and third and two outs in the seventh, and Joakim Soria combined to throw 2 1/3 scoreless innings, while fanning five. The 17 strikeouts by the trio set a season high for the club, and was Texas' most since Aug. 11, 2010.

Beltre -- who has hit safely in 17 of his last 18 games -- gave Darvish a lead by starting off the fifth inning with a solo homer, his 14th of the season, to left field off Blue Jays knuckeballer R.A. Dickey to put Texas ahead, 1-0.

The Rangers added another run later in the inning on a Rougned Odor RBI triple before Arencibia blew things open in the seventh.

Arencibia, who had his contract purchased from Triple-A Round Rock on Thursday, came to the plate to a chorus of boos with two runners on and quickly silenced the crowd of 38,012.

The former Blue Jay, who was non-tendered by Toronto in the offseason after spending parts of four years with the club, smoked a first-pitch offering from Dickey on a line to left field for his second homer of the season, giving Texas a 5-0 lead.

"It just knuckled into the barrel, thankfully, because the other ones I swung and missed by a foot," Arencibia said of his homer, which helped him set a season high with three RBIs.

Dickey (7-10) lasted seven innings, allowing five runs on six hits while striking out seven.

The Blue Jays, who are without a collection of potent bats in Edwin Encarnacion, Adam Lind and Brett Lawrie, lost for the ninth time in their last 11 games.

"Guys like Darvish, I don't care what your lineup is, they're gonna cut you up good and limit your opportunities," Toronto manager John Gibbons said.

Texas will send right-hander Colby Lewis to the mound Saturday, looking to win back-to-back games for the first time since June 27-28.

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