HOUSTON (AP) -- Japanese pitcher Yu Darvish narrowly missed a perfect game against the Houston Astros for a second time Monday, taking a no-hit bid into the eighth inning and striking out a career-high 15 batters in the Texas Rangers' 2-1 victory.
"He doesn't just have control. This guy has command," Houston manager Bo Porter said of Darvish. "He can throw every pitch the way he wants to throw it, even out of the strike zone. Which, when you have that kind of repertoire, you're going to be up against it."
Darvish, whose father is Iranian, dominated the Astros until Carlos Corporan lined a home run into the right-field seats with one out in the eighth inning for Houston's only hit.
Outfielder Alex Rios chased Corporan's drive to the wall, but had to watch as it sailed about five rows into the stands. Darvish simply looked around, and then wiped his brow with his arm before preparing to throw his next pitch.
In early April, Darvish (12-5) was one out away from a perfect game at Houston before Marwin Gonzalez singled between his legs.
This time, the two-time All-Star was equally sharp.
Darvish struck out 14 batters in four prior games this year, including his earlier outing at Houston. The Astros haven't been able to do anything against Darvish at home this season where he has a 3-0 record and 37 strikeouts in three starts.
Joe Nathan pitched a perfect ninth for his 35th save.
The inexperienced Astros have the worst record in the major leagues and are heading toward a third 100-loss season. Their latest lineup featured five rookies and no player with more than two years of major league experience.
Darvish was strong from the start relying mostly on a four-seam fastball, sliders and a cutter against the Astros' inexperienced lineup. He struck out the side in the first inning before getting two fly outs and a ground out in the second.
"He just was tough today," Houston center fielder Brandon Barnes said. "He had command of every pitch he had. When a guy has command of six or seven pitches, it's tough to try to just sit on one."
The 26-year-old right-hander struck out two batters in each of the third and fourth innings, struck out the side in the fifth and the first batter of the sixth inning. His strikeout of Chris Carter to start the fifth was his 200th of the season, giving him a team record for fewest games (23) needed to reach the mark.
Darvish, a two-time Most Valuable Player in Japan, flirted with perfection last Sept. 3, too, retiring the first 17 batters at Kansas City.