by Steve Carney
ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. (620 WDAE) -- What was billed as a potential pitching duel between Alex Cobb and Yu Darvish ended up being just that. However, Elvis Andrus got to the bullpen, hitting a two-run homer that gave the Texas Rangers a 3-0 win in the finale of their three-game series against the Tampa Bay Rays.
Darvish allowed a hit in each of the first six innings, including doubles to David DeJesus in the fifth and Evan Longoria in the sixth, but stranded all eight runners he allowed to reach, including five in scoring position.
Cobb was equally if not more so brilliant. In his seven shutout innings of work, he allowed just three hits - singles to J.P. Arencibia in the third, Donnie Murphy in the fifth, and Mitch Moreland in the seventh - and walked one while striking out six.
Texas had to wait until Joel Peralta seemed to be out of the eighth inning before striking. Peralta had retired Leonys Martin and Arencibia, and had appeared to have retired Shin-Soo Choo, but the left-fielder's chopper was just off his glove, going for a base hit, and Andrus then worked a full count before lining a pitch into the left-field seats.
The Rangers added a run in the ninth, as Adrian Beltre reached on a Longoria error, the team's first of the year, moved to second on a Alex Rios single off Josh Lueke, moved to third on a double play grounder by Moreland and scored when Donnie Murphy beat out the throw on his grounder in the hole at short.
Tampa Bay heads out on the road for the next nine games starting Monday when they begin a three-game series in Kansas City. Matt Moore will get the start, taking on Jason Vargas. First pitch is scheduled for 8:10, with pregame coverage beginning at 7:00 with the Suncoast Hyundai Dealers Inside Pitch on WDAE.
NOTES: Longoria's double in the sixth was his 202nd double of his career, tying him with B.J. Upton for second-most in franchise history. Carl Crawford holds the franchise record with 215.