Harrison's gem restores Rangers to 3-game lead

Posted Sunday, Sep. 16, 2012  comments  Print Reprints
A
AL West race

Team

Record

GB

Rangers

87-59

-

Athletics

84-62

3

Angels

80-67

7.5

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ARLINGTON -- Koji Uehara delivered the celebratory fist pump after the final out Sunday evening, while Matt Harrison slowly stepped over the dugout railing to shake hands with his Texas Rangers teammates.

Fist pumps generally aren't Harrison's style, even though he has had plenty of personal successes this season.

Or maybe beating Seattle has just become a little mundane.

"I don't know about that," he said.

But Harrison's numbers against the Mariners don't lie, and the trend continued on a rainy day at Rangers Ballpark.

In the process, Harrison used his personal punching bag to put to rest any questions about his health going forward.

Harrison allowed a run in 8 2/3 innings, outpitching Tarrant County resident Blake Beavan in the process, and Adrian Beltre hit his 33rd homer of the season as the Rangers squeaked past Seattle 2-1.

Harrison won his 17th game of the season and beat the Mariners for the fourth time. He allowed only six hits and was a pitch away from his fourth complete game of the season.

"Hopefully, I can maintain this through October, hopefully," Harrison said. "Hopefully, I can go out there and keep putting up zeroes and give us a chance to win."

Uehara struck out Michael Saunders to seal the victory and give him his first save since 2010.

Beltre's homer in the fourth broke a scoreless tie, and Mitch Moreland's double knocked in David Murphy an inning later to make it 2-0.

It was enough to send the Rangers to another series victory, but more importantly it boosted their lead in the American League West to three games over Oakland.

Both teams are idle today as they head out on road trips. While the Rangers will be at Anaheim and Seattle, the A's will be at Detroit and New York before coming to Rangers Ballpark for a four-game series Sept. 24-27.

"We worry about ourselves," catcher Mike Napoli said. "We try to come out and win that day. They've got a good ballclub, and we respect them. But we take the team that we're playing that day and get after it."

Justin Smoak spoiled Harrison's bid for a second straight shutout against the Mariners with a solo homer to start the eighth. The 403-foot shot to left was the only hit of the Mariners' six that went for extra bases.

The Rangers turned three double plays, two of which were started by Harrison.

"The defense was just outstanding behind me," he said.

The All-Star was at 102 pitches when he opened the ninth inning, but two-out single by Jesus Montero put runners on the corners and ended his day at 119 pitches.

The effort was enough to convince the Rangers to not give Harrison another break ahead of his next start, which they could have accomplished by giving Martin Perez a spot start.

Instead, Perez will replace Scott Feldman in the rotation, and Harrison will make his next start Saturday.

Against Seattle.

Harrison (17-9) is 4-0 with a 1.10 ERA this season against the Mariners and 10-1 with a 2.14 ERA in his career. He has beaten them in nine straight starts, and needs only 6 2/3 more innings at Safeco Field to hit 200 for the season.

"Some teams you have more success against than the others," he said.

The game was played in a crisp 2 hours, 2 minutes, which was 10 minutes shorter than the rain delay that pushed back the first pitch until after 4 p.m.

Harrison's performance, even against his personal punching bag, was worth the wait for the Rangers' 34th sellout crowd of the season.

"He was outstanding," manager Ron Washington said. "He had a good breaking ball and a good changeup. He had his sinker working today."

Jeff Wilson, 817-390-7760

Twitter: @JeffWilson_FWST

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