ARLINGTON, Texas (AP) — This was nothing new for Seattle starter Hisashi Iwakuma and Yu Darvish.
It was only the eighth time Japanese starters had pitched against other in the majors, but the former Pacific League MVPs started the same game six times before they were rookies in America.
Darvish won again, surpassing 200 strikeouts while getting his 15th victory for the AL West-leading Texas Rangers in a 9-3 win over Seattle on Friday night.
"It's not really any different between Japan and the major leagues for me," Iwakuma said through a translator. "We're friendly. In Japan, we go to dinner sometimes and I keep in touch with him."
Iwakuma (6-5) allowed only two runs, on homers by Ian Kinsler and Josh Hamilton, despite giving up seven hits over 5 1-3 innings.
The Rangers piled on seven runs in the eighth inning against four relievers.
"These are things that can't happen," Mariners manager Eric Wedge said. "When you get steamrolled like that, it should be one helluva of a wake-up call."
As for the Japanese starters, they last went head-to-head last year. Darvish threw a complete game for Hokkaido in a 2-0 win over Rakuten and Iwakuma, who worked 8 2-3 innings in that game.
Darvish (15-9) struck out nine Mariners in seven innings. The 6-foot-5 right-hander often complemented his mid-90s fastball with a breaking pitch about 30 mph slower.
"Instead of trying to incorporate all the weapons he has, he's coming out of the bullpen recognizing what's working and he's using them," Rangers manager Ron Washington said. "One time it's his slider, one time it's his four-seamer. Today, it was his cutter ... and the slow breaking ball."
After Carlos Peguero led off the fifth with a strikeout, Darvish's fourth of the game and 200th of the season, the Japanese star quickly added to that total. Trayvon Robinson took a called third strike and Munenori Kawasaki struck out swinging, missing a 94 mph pitch right after taking a 62 mph curve over the plate.
"It's a tough pitch, something you're not used to," Seattle third baseman Kyle Seager said. "When he threw them, he threw it with a purpose."
With 205 strikeouts, Darvish is the first major league rookie over 200 since Daisuke Matsuzaka had 201 for Boston in 2007. He is the 16th rookie, sixth in the American League, with 200 strikeouts.
Darvish retired 12 of his last 13 batters, striking out seven in that stretch. He allowed two hits and walked two while throwing 79 of his 110 pitches for strikes.