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Star-Telegram.com

Rangers end San Francisco skid behind Harrison's shutout

Posted Friday, Jun. 08, 2012

By Jeff Wilson

jwilson@star-telegram.com

Craig Gentry went 5-for-5 with two RBIs on Friday night, and wasn't even the best player on his team.

Matt Harrison delivered a five-hit shutout, and wasn't even the best pitching story in baseball.

But Harrison continued to play the role as the Rangers' best starting pitcher and as their skid-stopper of late as he blanked San Francisco 5-0 to snap the Rangers' two-game losing streak and their 11-game skid at AT&T Park.

The left-hander produced 18 groundball outs while tying David Price for the American League-lead in victories. Harrison (8-3) needed 111 pitches for his third career shutout and fourth complete game.

“Throughout the whole game everything was right where I wanted it,” Harrison said. “The balls that were put in play, the defense was outstanding. It was just unbelievable how great they were behind me.”

Ian Kinsler started the game with a home run on the second pitch from Barry Zito, and Josh Hamilton launched his 22nd homer of the season and first in eight games in the fifth.

Gentry had RBI singles in the fourth and ninth innings, and scored on an RBI single by Kinsler in the sixth. Gentry said that while Kinsler jump-started the offense, Harrison kept the momentum going by getting the team off the field and back in the batter's box.

The Rangers collected 14 hits after having nine the past two games, and all eight position players had a hit. Harrison contributed to sacrifice bunts and had five plate appearances, a club record for a pitcher.

“The less you're out on the defense, the more offense you get to focus on,” said Gentry, whose previous career-high for hits in a game was three. “All night it just felt like we were in the dugout the whole time. Harry just set the tone for the game.”

Gentry fielded two of the three balls hit to the outfield, singles by Brandon Crawford and Emmanuel Burris. Nelson Cruz caught a Ryan Theriot popup to start the fifth.

The Giants' other three hits never left the infield. They had only one runner reach second base, but Zito slid through the bag on a infield single up the middle and was tagged out to end the third inning.

All those groundballs kept the infielders on their toes and heads in the game. Shortstop Elvis Andrus was the busiest, finishing with eight assists.

“I told him after the game, 'Thank you for all the action today,' ” Andrus said. “That's what he does whenever he's commanding everything. Today was an example that whenever he gets ahead in the count and is making his pitches, he's really tough to hit.”

Harrison has two of the Rangers' three victories on this 10-game road trip. He also won Sunday at Anaheim to snap a four-game losing streak, and is riding a personal streak of four straight wins.

The Rangers' victory allowed them to maintain their four-game lead in the AL West.

“As a starter you want to get as many wins as you can,” Harrison said. “Every year you're not going to get as many as you want, but when you get them it's special. The biggest thing is we won.”

How Rangers pitchers fared: Matt Harrison turned in the best performance by a Rangers starter this season, scattering five singles in his third career shutout. Three of the hits didn't leave the infield. His sinker and changeup helped produce 18 groundball outs.

How Rangers hitters fared: The offense didn't fix itself entirely, but the 14-hit attack with a couple of homers is a nice start toward breaking out. The Rangers weren't great with runners in scoring position (2 for 10) and stranded 13 runners. Craig Gentry had a career-high four hits.

Jeff Wilson, 817-390-7760

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