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Star-Telegram.com

Rangers get double dose of relief in record 22nd sellout

Posted Sunday, Jun. 24, 2012

By Drew Davison

ddavison@star-telegram.com

ARLINGTON -- Another sellout. Another series victory. Another win. And, as has been the case for the Texas Rangers of late, another pitching scare.

But, fortunately for the Rangers, the lower back tightness on the left side that forced Matt Harrison out of Sunday's game isn't considered serious, and he is expected to make his next start.

That's a good thing for the Rangers, too, as Harrison has been their hottest pitcher. He threw five scoreless innings before being pulled, and the Rangers held on for a 4-2 victory over the Colorado Rockies at Rangers Ballpark.

The Rangers won their fifth consecutive series, have won eight of their last nine and sold out Rangers Ballpark for the 22nd time this season -- the most in franchise history.

"Harry was outstanding, had a good sinker working," manager Ron Washington said. "Once he let us know there was a little bit of stiffness, we just took him out. Harry didn't want to come out, but we weren't taking any chances."

Harrison had been working out of jams all night at that point. He had allowed a base runner every inning, but induced three double play grounders to get out of the third, fourth and fifth.

Despite his early exit, Harrison picked up his American League-leading 10th win. He has gone 6-0 with a 1.26 ERA over his last seven starts, and has certainly put himself among the contenders for an All-Star Game selection.

"It'd be a big thing for me because it'd be my first one," Harrison said. "But my focus is on my next two starts before the break."

Harrison went on to credit the four relievers who picked him up, as well as Leonys Martin, who drove in three runs with a double and a triple.

Things got interesting in the ninth, though.

Joe Nathan, who hadn't allowed a run since May 13, came on to close out a 4-0 game. But the Rockies' first four batters reached on a single, walk, hit by pitch and RBI single.

With the go-ahead run, Carlos Gonzalez, at the plate, Nathan threw a first-pitch curveball. Gonzalez sent it deep to left field, but Josh Hamilton tracked it down and made a leaping catch at the wall.

What could have been a game-tying hit became a sacrifice fly.

"It could've been dangerous," Washington said. "He was able to get to it with his speed and made the play."

Added Nathan: "Great catch by Josh. Great jump on the ball."

On that same play, the Rangers caught Marco Scutaro in a rundown. He got out of it initially, sliding into second safely. But Scutaro thought he had been called out, and left the bag allowing Elvis Andrus to tag him out.

Nathan ended the game by striking out Jason Giambi.

"The last thing you want to do is have the bases loaded and no outs, but credit to them," Nathan said. "They put together some ABs, and I made pitches after that."

The Rangers' pitching staff worked out of jams the entire game. The Rockies had runners reach in every inning, but they weren't able to score until the ninth.

Robbie Ross, Tanner Scheppers and Mike Adams worked scoreless sixth, seventh and eighth innings.

For Adams, it's worth noting, it was an emotional night. Earlier in the day, he found out that San Diego Padres bullpen coach Darrel Akerfelds passed away. Adams had grown close to Akerfelds when he was with the Padres from 2008-11.

"I'm not going to lie, it was tough," said Adams, who had Akerfelds' initials on his hat. "When I was in the game, it was hard to block that out. I've known him for a while, and at least he's not suffering any more."

Drew Davison

817-390-7760

Twitter: @drewdavison

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