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Rangers rout Tigers 9-2, handing AL Central leaders their 4th straight loss

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DETROIT - On a day full of bad news on the injury front, at least the Texas Rangers could enjoy a victory.

Shin-Soo Choo homered, Chris Gimenez had four hits and the Rangers rolled to a 9-2 victory over the slumping Detroit Tigers on Thursday.

This was supposed to be Prince Fielder's first game back in Detroit after the Tigers traded him in the off-season, but the big first baseman didn't make the trip because of a herniated disk in his neck that could keep him out the rest of the season.

Fielder is expected to have surgery Tuesday. General manager Jon Daniels announced that after the game.

Manager Ron Washington had already finished talking to reporters by then.

"You just want to go out there and give yourself a chance, hope your pitching staff gives you a chance," Washington said. "We understand not every day we're going to be able to put nine runs up, especially against this team."

Yu Darvish (4-2) allowed two runs and six hits in seven innings, striking out six and walking three.

The Rangers broke through quickly against Detroit rookie Robbie Ray (1-1), who lasted only 3 1-3 innings. Ray allowed seven runs, nine hits and four walks, and the AL Central-leading Tigers lost their fourth straight.

Ian Kinsler, who was traded to Detroit for Fielder in an off-season blockbuster, went 1 for 3 in his first game against the Rangers.

The Tigers breezed to a 27-12 start before being swept in a three-game series at Cleveland.

Star right-handers Justin Verlander and Max Scherzer were both knocked around in that series, and a 13-inning finale against the Indians taxed the bullpen.

Ray's start Thursday made the situation even worse, and infielder Danny Worth ended up pitching the ninth inning for Detroit.

Worth, throwing a knuckleball, actually struck out two in a scoreless frame.

"That was a lot of fun," Worth said. "Obviously, you don't ever want to be needed in that spot, but once I got out there, I enjoyed it."

Alex Rios opened the scoring with an RBI double off Ray in the second, and Gimenez drove him home with a single. Adrian Beltre added a two-run double the following inning and later scored to make it 5-0.

In half of Darvish's first eight starts, the Rangers failed to provide a single run of support. That wasn't a problem Thursday. Choo's two-run homer in the fourth chased Ray, and Michael Choice's two-run single later that inning gave the Rangers a nine-run lead.

Gimenez had never even had a three-hit game before Thursday. Not only did he contribute offensively, but he also had little trouble behind the plate. It was his first time catching Darvish and his tricky array of pitches.

"He let me do whatever I wanted to do," Darvish said through a translator. "So I felt really good."

Texas has won back-to-back games for only the second time this month, but the Rangers' injury woes remain a major concern. It looks like they will be without Fielder for a while, and in the third inning, centre fielder Daniel Robertson hurt himself in an outfield collision. Robertson came diving in headfirst to try to make a catch, at the same time Rios came sliding in from right.

Replays showed a wad of gum popping out of Robertson's mouth when the two players collided.

X-ray and concussion tests were negative.

"It's a hard play, it's a hustle play," Robertson said. "If we were to do it 10 times again, I'd make the same play."

The Tigers lead second-place Minnesota by 4 1/2 games in the division, but they've allowed 31 runs in their past four games, an uncharacteristic spell for what might be baseball's best starting rotation.

Detroit's starters have allowed 19 earned runs over a three-game span, the first time that's happened since May 24-27, 2011, according to STATS. The last time a position player pitched for the Tigers was also in 2011, when Don Kelly did it.

NOTES: Detroit's extra-inning loss to Cleveland on Wednesday took 5 hours, 16 minutes. Thursday's game looked as if it might stretch past 4 hours for a while, but it sped up toward the end and was over in 3:30. ... Detroit RHP Anibal Sanchez (1-2) takes the mound against Texas RHP Scott Baker (0-0) on Friday night.

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