Bullpen solid in Rangers victory

Posted Thursday, Jul. 28, 2011  comments  Print Reprints
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ARLINGTON -- Jon Daniels would like to add another player to the bullpen.

The Texas Rangers general manager is looking at all possible options, but hasn't made any deals.

"I can't say at this point if we will," Daniels said. "Nothing to report now, but things can change."

For a night, though, the bullpen wasn't an issue. Three relievers preserved another strong outing by Matt Harrison as the Rangers pulled out a 4-1 victory over the Twins on Thursday night at Rangers Ballpark in Arlington.

Texas (60-46) maintained a two-game lead in the American League West over the Angels, who also won Thursday.

Harrison threw 7 1/3 innings of one-run ball, and looked like a veteran. Nothing seemed to faze him.

He gave up two-out hits in the third and fourth innings, but retired the next batters.

In the fifth, Jim Thome led off with a double to left-center, and, after getting two outs, Harrison found himself with the bases loaded with consecutive infield hits. But he ended that threat with a fielder's choice groundout by Tsuyoshi Nishioka.

Harrison allowed his only run in the sixth, but it could've been worse. With two on and no out, Jason Kubel grounded into a double play. After an RBI single by Thome, Harrison got out of the jam.

Minimizing damage is something Harrison has become more confident about throughout the season.

"You just have to keep executing pitches," Harrison said. "I learned my lesson from the two games against Toronto and Oakland earlier in the year. I wanted to make sure I kept making my pitches."

Harrison would work into the eighth inning -- outdueling Twins starter Scott Baker -- for the third time in his past four starts before his night ended with a one-out walk to Joe Mauer. He handed over a 2-1 lead to the bullpen, which kept it intact.

Yoshinori Tateyama struck out the lone batter he faced, Michael Cuddyer. And Arthur Rhodes avenged a two-run home run he gave up to Jason Kubel on Monday by getting him to fly out to end the eighth.

"From what he did the other night, for me, it was like payback," said Rhodes, whose ERA rose a full run to 5.09 after Monday's game. "Today, I had a good slider and came through."

The Rangers cushioned their lead with two unearned runs in the eighth. With two outs, Josh Hamilton tripled and Michael Young drew an intentional walk.

Nelson Cruz reached on an error by Twins third baseman Danny Valencia, a play that scored Hamilton. Mitch Moreland then brought in Young with a single to center.

"It's big to put some extra runs on the board because you never know what's going to happen in this game," manager Ron Washington said.

Especially two nights after Neftali Feliz blew his fifth save of the season, prompting Washington to say he needed to see more "fire" out of his closer.

Feliz unleashed his fire, throwing 98 mph fastballs, along with crisp off-speed pitches, in a perfect ninth for his 21st save.

"What happened last time, I always forget it," Feliz said. "I just came 100 percent sure I had to do my job and do my best. That's what I think. I never worry about last time."

And, at least for a night, the Rangers didn't have to worry about their bullpen.

Drew Davison, 817-390-7760

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