ARLINGTON, Texas — Yu Darvish walked to the precipice of history against the Red Sox on Friday night. But David Ortiz was standing in the way.
Robbed of a hit by a controversial scoring call in the seventh inning, Ortiz delivered a clean single to right field with two outs in the ninth inning to break up Darvish’s no-hitter.
What wasn’t in dispute is how thoroughly Darvish dominated the Red Sox in a game the Texas Rangers won, 8-0.
Darvish needed one out to get the first no-hitter for Texas since Kenny Rogers in 1994. The righthander was tiring at that point and fell behind Ortiz 2-and-1. His 126th pitch was a fastball over the plate and Ortiz grounded it into right field for a single.
“If you don’t break up the no-hitter you’ll be showing up on MLB and ESPN for about a month,” Ortiz said. “That was the only pitch he gave me to hit basically.”
The ball was hit where second baseman Rougned Odor normally would be. But the Rangers were playing their usual shift against Ortiz, with Odor in short right field.
“The shift [messed] them up. If you’re playing normal that’s the end of the game,” Ortiz said.
The crowd of 45,392 groaned then gave Darvish an ovation as he left the mound.
Maybe it was fitting. Ortiz hit a pop-up to shallow right field with two outs in the seventh that fell between Odor and right fielder Alex Rios to end Darvish’s bid for a perfect game.
The 20-year-old Odor, who was called up from Double A on Thursday, appeared to have a play on the ball but it fell behind him. Neither player touched the ball. After a delay, scorer Steve Weller charged Rios with an error to temporarily preserve the no-hitter.
Major League Baseball rule 10.12 allows for an error to be called on such a play if the scorer believes an “ordinary effort” would result in a catch. But such plays are traditionally scored as hits.
“I felt like Alex Rios at one point raised his hand to call him off and the second baseman basically stopped at that point,” Weller told a pool reporter.
But Rios said he did not call off Odor. Ortiz acknowledged he should have been out. But he felt the play should have been scored a hit.
“We all understand that when it comes down to the rules of the game. That’s a hit. That’s the rule that we all know,” Ortiz said.
Ortiz expects the call to be changed by MLB.
“I wouldn’t mind, to be honest, if the guy threw a no-hitter,” he said. “I would have been OK with it. Now I’m getting greedy. But [Darvish] did a hell of a job. He pitched his [butt] off.”
Darvish walked Mike Napoli after the error but got Grady Sizemore on a fly ball to right field. He walked Xander Bogaerts to start the eighth inning then set down the next three hitters.
Darvish (3-1) walked two and struck out 12.
“I don’t think it was the best game I’ve ever thrown, but it was against Boston,” Darvish said.
Before Ortiz’s pop-up, he had retired 20 in a row. The only thing close to a hit was a line drive by Sizemore in the fifth inning that left fielder Shin-Soo Choo had to reach up for.
Sox catcher A.J. Pierzynski played for Texas last season and caught Darvish 17 times. He said Darvish threw a higher percentage of fastballs and that served to make his slider and other pitches even better.
“Maybe he finally listened to somebody that he needs to throw more fastballs. Last year we tried to get on him about that and he never did it,” Pierzynski said. “Tonight he threw a lot of fastballs and he had confidence in his fastball. It was good to see.”
The Sox haven’t been no-hit since Chris Bosio of the Mariners did it on April 22, 1993, at the Kingdome in Seattle.
Red Sox starter Clay Buchholz lasted only 4⅓ innings, giving up six runs on 10 hits and two walks. That ended any change the Sox had of winning three straight for the first time this season.
Buchholz is now 2-3 with a 6.44 earned run average. Friday marked the third time in seven starts he was unable to complete five innings. He has allowed six or more runs on 10 or more hits three times in 128 career starts, two of them this season.
Buchholz allowed four runs over 13⅓ innings in his prior two starts. But he took a step back against the Rangers and it started in the first inning.
Elvis Andrus (4 for 5) singled with one out and scored on a double into the left field corner by Adrian Beltre. A terrific leaping catch in center field by Jackie Bradley Jr. took at least a double away from Prince Fielder or the Rangers would have scored a second run.
Buchholz walked Shin-Soo Choo to start the third inning before singles by Andrus and Fielder produced a run. A sacrifice fly by Rios made it 3-0.
Buchholz didn’t survive the fifth inning. Andrus singled before Fielder walked with one out. Rios delivered an RBI single. That was it for Buchholz.
“Things got away from us,” Sox manager John Farrell said. “Stuff, I think, was fairly consistent in terms of velocity [and] the action of his cutter. It was location.”
Lefthander Chris Capuano, so good early in the season, had another rough game when he came out of the bullpen.
After the first balk called against the Red Sox this season moved the runners up, Mitch Moreland singled to left field to drive in Fielder. J.P. Arencibia followed with a sacrifice fly and Leonys Martin with a two-run home run to right field.Peter Abraham can be reached at email@example.com. Follow him on Twitter @PeteAbe.