ARLINGTON — A.J. Pierzynski brushed off any talk of a potential rift between him and Rangers ace Yu Darvish.The two had a heated exchange in Darvish’s start in Oakland last Wednesday, and Pierzynski wasn’t behind the plate for Darvish’s start on Monday.“Darvish and I are fine,” Pierzynski said. “That’s it. There’s nothing else to it. It was an intense series, an intense moment. Things happen. That’s it.”Darvish matched his season low by lasting only five innings, allowing five runs on five hits with six walks, in the start against the A’s. But that hasn’t been the case in most of the games Pierzynski has caught.Darvish has a 2.80 ERA in 17 starts with Pierzynski behind the plate, including all three starts in which he flirted with no-hitters into the seventh inning.In 11 starts with catcher Geovany Soto going into Monday, he had a 3.07 ERA.“No matter which one I catch, I feel comfortable with,” manager Ron Washington said. “Today I decided to go with Soto. There’s nothing underlying other than that.”Asked specifically about the incident between Darvish and Pierzynski, Washington said: “I didn’t think of that.”Lineup mattersIt’s at the point of the season where Ron Washington is going to ride the players who are playing well. That means David Murphy and Lance Berkman could see their playing time dwindle down the stretch.Jim Adduci started in left field Monday with Murphy on the bench. Adduci entered batting .375 since being promoted to the big leagues on Sept. 1, while Murphy has been in a season-long slump with a .221 average.Murphy entered in the sixth inning for Adduci, who left with a right biceps strain and is listed as day-to-day.Berkman, meanwhile, was on the bench for a fifth consecutive game, but he and Murphy understand the decisions.“I feel like I’ve been in a five-month slump,” Murphy said. “I know that I might not get the amount of playing time down the stretch that I’d like, but I still feel like I can help the team contribute when I get a chance. It’s not going to change the amount of fight that’s in me.”Said Berkman: “I understand it. Certainly the competitor in you wants to be out there and a part of things, but on the same token I don’t hold any grudges. It’s just the circumstances of a playoff race.”Hurdle praises WashPirates manager Clint Hurdle spent the 2010 season as the Rangers’ hitting coach, and called it “one of the most satisfying opportunities I had in my professional career.”Hurdle has fond memories of that season when he worked under manager Ron Washington and was part of the franchise’s first World Series team. Hurdle moved on after that that year, though, when given the chance to manage again in Pittsburgh.But he had nothing but love for Washington on his return to Rangers Ballpark.“There’s nothing I don’t like about Wash,” Hurdle said. “He’s all in all the time. This guy gives you everything he’s got every day. He’s transparent. Trust, honesty. It was easy. It was easy work. It was a great group of guys. As soon as we get out of town, I’ll wish him well.”Briefly• Barring injury, the rotation is set for the next few weeks and the “fifth spot” won’t come up again until Sept. 17 at Tampa Bay. The Rangers will have Martin Perez and Matt Garza the final two games against the Pirates, and then go with Derek Holland, Yu Darvish and Perez against the A’s this weekend. The fifth spot candidates for the Sept. 17 game include Alexi Ogando, Nick Tepesch and Travis Blackley.• Matt Harrison underwent Thoracic Outlet Syndrome surgery (right side) on Monday. The surgery, performed by Dr. Greg Pearl, went well, and Harrison is expected to be ready for spring training.• Martin Perez is going for his 10th win Tuesday, which would give him the most wins by an AL rookie this season and the most wins by a rookie left-hander in franchise history.
Drew Davison, 817-390-7760 Twitter: @drewdavison