Darnell homered twice and matched a career high with six RBIs on Tuesday night as the San Antonio Missions coasted to an 8-1 rout of the Corpus Christi Hooks at Whataburger Field.
One night after he had a seven-game hitting streak snapped, the Padres' second-round pick in the 2008 Draft followed Cody Decker's RBI double in the first inning with a two-run homer, his seventh. Up again with one out in the third and two men on base, Darnell launched a three-run blast to give the Missions a 6-1 cushion. After grounding out in the fifth, he drove in Jaff Decker with a sacrifice fly in the seventh, then struck out in the ninth.
Darnell has four longballs and 12 RBis over his last seven games. His .371 batting average leads the Texas League, while his .469 on-base percentage ranks second. The 24-year-old third baseman has struck out 16 times and drawn 26 walks in 35 games.
It's the second time in his career that Darnell has driven in six runs. Playing for short-season Eugene on Aug. 27, 2008, he went 2-for-4 with a homer, double, three walks and six RBIs in the Emeralds' 21-rout of Salem-Keizer. That was just Darnell's ninth game as a pro.
Darnell wasn't the only offensive force for the Missions, who are hitting a league-leading .294, 28 points better than second-place Frisco.
Cody Decker doubled three times, Jaff Decker singled, walked twice and scored two runs and catcher Ali Solis went 2-for-4 with an RBI double.
San Antonio starter Jorge Reyes (2-0) cruised to his second win, allowing an unearned run on seven hits over five frames. He struck out six and did not walk a batter.
The Missions improved to a league-best 25-13 and have a five-game lead on second-place Frisco in the South Division. They are 11 games in front of last-place Corpus Christi, which has lost eight of its last 10.
Hooks hurler Ross Seaton fell to 1-2 after giving up six runs on six hits and three walks in four innings. The former third-round pick has surrendered 12 earned runs on 16 hits over 10 frames in his last two outings.
The top four hitters in the Hooks lineup collected two hits apiece, but only one of Corpus Christi's 10 hits -- Brandon Wikoff's eighth-inning double -- went for extra bases. Jimmy Paredes drove in the Hooks' lone run.