OAKLAND -- Rangers starter Yu Darvish allowed more walks than he did hits Wednesday afternoon against the arch-nemesis Athletics. Even more alarming is he had two more walks than strikeouts in the rubber match of the three-game series at the O.co Coliseum.
That's never a good sign for any pitcher, especially one that leads the Major Leagues in strikeouts, and the Rangers have now lost Darvish's last four starts after an 11-4 loss to the Athletics. The Rangers have also dropped 12 of their last 18 games with Darvish on the mound after beginning the season winning eight of his first nine starts.
"It wasn't a good day for him, that's all," manager Ron Washington said. "He didn't have his command. That can happen if you take the ball enough. There is no reason to push the panic button. Yu is human. He is like everybody else, he can have a bad day when it just doesn't work. Today was that day."
There were a couple of times when Darvish appeared frustrated on the mound and cut short conversations with catcher A.J. Pierzynski and pitching coach Mike Maddux. But Darvish said that wasn't an issue.
"I thought they had finished the conversations and I had turned around and stepped off the mound," Darvish said. "Obviously I was frustrated, but I felt the conversations were over."
The loss dropped the Rangers back into a tie with the Athletics for first place in the American League West with 23 games to play. The Rangers are off Thursday before starting a three-game series with the Angels on Friday in Anaheim.
"You can look at this series any way you want, but we lost two of three and now we're even," second baseman Ian Kinsler said. "We have 23 games left and we have to win one more than them. There is not much to make of this series other than they beat us two out of three."
Darvish went five-plus innings, tying for the shortest of his 27 starts this season, and allowed five runs on five hits and six walks while striking out four. The six walks were a season high and three of them ended up crossing the plate.
"I was mentally and mechanically a little off," Darvish said. "My slider command was good, but my fastball command was totally off and it went in a downward spiral from there."
Two of the hits were home runs and he's allowed 24 on the season, which puts him in the top 10 in the AL. The loss dropped Darvish's record to 1-5 with a 4.86 ERA in six career starts against the Athletics. He is 27-11 with a 3.26 ERA against every other team.
"I think he brings out the best in us because he's their No. 1," Athletics third baseman Josh Donaldson said. "I haven't really done much ever against him, but it's a team game, and up and down the lineup, I felt like we all had good at-bats today. I think he wasn't feeling great today, and it's just one of those things where he was battling and we were able to beat him on a couple pitches."
The Athletics also knocked around Robbie Ross and Cory Burns. The 11 runs allowed ended Texas' club-record streak of 31 straight games having allowed five runs or fewer. Jarrod Parker earned the victory for the A's by holding the Rangers to two runs in six innings. He is 6-1 with a 2.93 ERA in seven career starts against Texas.
"Yu just had some command issues," Pierzynski said. "Today was one of those days where we were off pitching-wise. The A's didn't miss much. We gave them some chances, they swung the bats and didn't miss much."
Darvish got into trouble in the first with a two-out walk to Jed Lowrie, and Brandon Moss followed with a two-run home run. Moss has three home runs against Darvish, tied with Mike Trout for the most by any opponent. Darvish also walked the first two hitters in the third and the Athletics got a run out of it on a couple of fly balls to make it 3-0.
The Rangers picked up two in the third off Parker. Jim Adduci singled with one out and scored on a double by Leonys Martin. Craig Gentry's single made it 3-2.
Things might have been different had the Rangers tied the game or taken the lead in the fifth after Jurickson Profar singled and Adduci reached on shortstop Jed Lowrie's error. Martin bunted them to second and third. That brought up Gentry, who got ahead 2-0 in the count before hitting a weak check-swing grounder to Parker. Profar broke for home and was thrown out in a rundown. Kinsler grounded out to end the inning.
That left the Athletics still up by one until the sixth. That's when Darvish walked Alberto Callaspo to start the inning and then gave up a two-run home run to Daric Barton. That was it for Darvish.
"If you get him on the run early, like any good starter, it seems like you have a better chance off of him," Oakland manager Bob Melvin said. "Moss hits the home run, and now it looks like he has some command issues after that. He got back in it and really had to use his breaking ball more than his fastball to throw strikes, so it's about trying to get him out of sync early in games, and we've been able to do that a couple of times."
T.R. Sullivan is a reporter for MLB.com. Read his blog, Postcards from Elysian Fields, and follow him on Twitter @Sullivan_Ranger. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.