Yu Darvish found the perfect way to help the Rangers bounce back from their opening night loss.
It was almost a perfect game.
Darvish retired the first 26 batters he faced before giving up a ground ball base hit to Marwin Gonzalez that went right through Darvish's legs.
As he watched the ball roll to center fielder Craig Gentry, Darvish had a big smile on his face.
Rangers manager Ron Washington immediately made a pitching change, so Darvish's final line was 8 2/3 innings pitched, 111 pitches, 14 strikeouts, 1 hit, and 0 runs.
The Rangers won the game 7-0.
Last year, Darvish flirted with a perfect game against Kansas City, when he didn't allow a baserunner for 6 2/3 innings. He allowed consecutive hits before finishing the 6th and then throwing a perfect 7th inning.
Against the Astros, Darvish struck out five of the first six batters he faced, and he struck out the side in the second and fourth innings.
Besides the base hit in the 9th, only one other ball left the infield.
After the game, catcher A.J. Pierzynski said he and some teammates were talking in the tunnel about how close Darvish came to perfection.
"I don't think I've ever been so disappointed in a shutout in my life, just because how close we came," Pierzynski said in a post-game interview.
The last time the Rangers had a no-hitter was also the franchise's only perfect game, when Kenny Rogers did it on July 28, 1994.
The Rangers wrap up their series in Houston on Wednesday afternoon, then return to Arlington for their home opener Friday against the Angels.