July 5, 2011

Rangers put it all together for comeback win over Orioles

Matt Harrison battles and hitters deliver late against the Orioles.

ARLINGTON -- Good starting pitching. Good relief work. Clutch hits. Nifty defense.

All in the same game.

The Texas Rangers on Tuesday night looked like the team that pulled away to a division title and eventually played for the world title last season.

Matt Harrison, though, looked like a different starting pitcher yet again, keeping his team close despite surrendering 11 hits, and the middle of the order came through in the sixth and seventh innings to lift the Rangers to a 4-2 victory.

Tommy Hunter was credited with the victory, pitching a scoreless seventh inning in a critical spot, but Harrison kept his composure when it seemed as though the game was about to hit the fan in the first inning.

"He kept us in the ballgame and finally gave us a chance to put some runs on the board," manager Ron Washington said. "It just shows that he's in charge of his emotions out there and he's got some toughness. It could have been ugly there in that first inning."

J.J. Hardy started the game with a solo homer, and the next two Orioles reached on soft singles. After Vladimir Guerrero grounded out for the first out, Baltimore had runners at second and third.

Harrison didn't budge, in a spot where he had budged earlier in the season against Toronto and Oakland. He struck out all-or-nothing Mark Reynolds and also fanned Matt Wieters to end the inning with only one run in.

Wieters got some payback in the fourth, starting the inning with a homer, but Harrison yielded only the two runs while pitching into the seventh inning.

The Orioles had runners against Harrison in six of his innings, but they went 0 for 6 against him with runners in scoring position.

But his success was rooted in the first.

"If I didn't get out of the first, there's no telling what would have happened," said Harrison, who threw 103 pitches on a night when the temperature was 103 degrees at first pitch.

"I was able to bear down and get those next two guys out with runners on second and third, and I just tried to keep making my pitches from there on out. I made a couple of mistakes, but I've never seen so many bloop hits. I just battled today, pretty much the whole game."

The Rangers were blanked for five innings by Mitch Atkins, who had been brought up from Triple A earlier in the day to make the start. But they broke through in the sixth with three singles, the last of which by Nelson Cruz cut the Orioles' 2-0 lead in half.

Hunter cleaned up a leadoff single in the seventh for Harrison, in large part due to two sharp plays by shortstop Elvis Andrus, and the Rangers showed their two-out hitting touch in the bottom of the inning.

Yorvit Torrealba was at third when Andrus worked a two-out walk against Jim Johnson. That brought up Hamilton, who sliced a single just in front of left fielder Nolan Reimold.

Torrealba scored, and Andrus did, too, after Reimold's throw to third skipped to the Orioles' dugout. Adrian Beltre followed with a double to plate Hamilton.

Mark Lowe and Neftali Feliz finished off Baltimore and gave the Rangers only their third win in 32 games this season when trailing after six innings.

Good starting pitching. Good relief work. Clutch hitting. Nifty defense. That's a winning formula.

"That's the way we want to play the game every day," second baseman Ian Kinsler said. "It hasn't been clicking lately, but it's nice to get a win in that style."

Jeff Wilson, 817-390-7760

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