ARLINGTON, Texas — Early run support went a long way to helping Texas Rangers right-hander A.J. Griffin produce his best outing of the season and outpitch the best road pitcher in the major leagues this season.
Mitch Moreland’s grand slam capped a bizarre, five-run first inning and Griffin pitched six strong innings as the Rangers beat the Cleveland Indians 7-0 Saturday night.
“I kind of tried to put my blinders on a little bit and execute my game plan,” Griffin said of the early lead. “That was a big grand slam Mitch hit, for sure.”
Griffin (6-3) allowed five hits while winning for the first time since Aug. 4. In making his first scoreless start of the season, Griffin didn’t allow a home run for the first time in 12 starts.
Griffin has routinely lost effectiveness in the middle innings but kept hitters off balance throughout his 95-pitch performance.
“With A.J., we understand the pitch count,” Texas manager Jeff Banister said. “He elevates a little bit when he’s trying to go down, not as sharp. I was proud of him tonight ’cause he stayed sharp.”
The Indians were unable to get more than one hit in any inning.
“If you stay close, we felt we could string a couple hits together,” Cleveland manager Terry Francona said. “But once they spread it out, that makes it tough.”
Carlos Carrasco (9-7) allowed seven runs — four unearned in the first — and eight hits in four innings while striking out eight. He went into the game with a 1.74 road ERA this season, the best in the majors.
After Ian Desmond’s one-out single in the first, Carlos Beltran snapped a career-worst 0-for-32 hitless streak with an infield single to the left side against a shift. The runners moved up on a balk when Carrasco began a pickoff throw to first base but halted because first baseman Carlos Santana was 20 feet from the bag.
On Adrian Beltre’s sharp grounder to third, Desmond dove back and beat Jose Ramirez’s tag to load the bases. Rougned Odor’s hard grounder to first bounced off Santana’s glove for a run-scoring error and Moreland pulled a first-pitch slider just inside the right-field foul pole with two out for his second career slam.
Elvis Andrus doubled in two runs in the third inning after Moreland was intentionally walked with two out.
Texas has the American League’s best record, two games ahead of Cleveland. The Rangers increased their West lead to 7 1/2 games.
A BLOOP AND NO BLAST
Beltran also dumped an opposite-field hit just inside the left-field line that eluded Ramirez and left fielder Abraham Almonte. Before the game, Banister lamented that the 39-year-old was hitting in bad luck during the hitless streak that tied a franchise record.
“Hey, anything can happen when you put the baseball in play,” Banister said. “That gets him back on that positive train.”
DARVISH’S BAT TAKING A REST
Rangers RHP Yu Darvish is scheduled to start Monday at home vs. Seattle after hitting his first big-league home run in his previous start last Wednesday in Cincinnati. Darvish said he won’t lobby to bat in the AL game.
“I don’t want to get tired,” Darvish said. “So, no, thank you for that.”
RHP Jeremy Jeffress spent his second day on the restricted list as Major League Baseball continued to look into the pitcher’s arrest on a drunken driving charge early Friday morning in Dallas. … OF Carlos Gomez is 0-for-11 with six strikeouts since homering in his Texas debut at-bat on Thursday.
Indians: Manager Terry Francona said there’s no timetable for when C Yan Gomes (right shoulder separation) will begin a rehab session.
Rangers: RHP Colby Lewis (right lat strain) is scheduled to make his second rehab start on Monday for Double-A Frisco. He last appeared in a major league game on June 21.
Indians: RHP Danny Salazar (11-5) has compiled a 10.41 ERA over six starts in July and August, lasting only 11 total innings in his last four outings.
Rangers: LHP Derek Holland (5-6) returned from the disabled list last Tuesday, allowing one run on four hits in six innings in a loss at Cincinnati.