ARLINGTON -- The Texas Rangers needed a break last year. This year, they are simply excited to get one.
A year after heading into the All-Star break on a four-game losing streak, the Rangers are going into this year's on a season-high seven-game winning streak.
Matt Harrison threw 72/3 scoreless innings and Adrian Beltre belted his 19th home run to carry the Rangers to a 2-0 victory over the Oakland Athletics on Sunday at Rangers Ballpark. Texas is 10 games over .500 for the first time this season and has a one-game lead over the Los Angeles Angels in the American League West.
"It's definitely a big confidence boost to go into the break on a winning streak," said Harrison, who moved to 7-7 with a 3.04 ERA. "Now we just need to enjoy the break and come back with the same focus and energy we had in the first half."
Harrison made the good vibes in the clubhouse afterward possible with his longest outing since he threw 81/3 innings on May 22 against Philadelphia. He retired the first five batters he faced and never had to work out of any real trouble.
The most pressure Oakland put on Harrison came in the sixth inning when it put runners at first and second with one out.
But Harrison struck out Josh Willingham, and Scott Sizemore grounded out. Oakland never had a base runner reach third against Harrison or the the Rangers' bullpen.
"I was able to move my fastball in and out and keep them off balance," Harrison said. "They took a lot of pitches early that were strikes, and I was able to attack them from the get-go."
Mark Lowe relieved Harrison in the eighth but didn't have to retire the batter he faced as Mike Napoli threw out Coco Crisp trying to steal second.
Neftali Feliz closed the game with a perfect ninth, picking up his 18th save.
It was the 10th shutout the Rangers have thrown in the first half, a franchise record.
The Rangers needed a strong pitching performance, too, as A's starter Trevor Cahill has a history of success against them.
And the Rangers weren't able to do anything off Cahill for 52/3 innings.
But Josh Hamilton drew a two-out walk and Beltre hit a home run over the left-center field fence to put the Rangers up 2-0.
It was Beltre's third consecutive game with a homer, the third time he has accomplished that feat in his career.
"I was trying to get my pitch to hit, try not to miss my pitch," Beltre said. "I was trying to hit the ball hard somewhere."
He did just that, producing the only runs of the game and keeping the Rangers riding high. They have 51 wins going into the break, tied for second-most in team history.
Manager Ron Washington summed up the first half best before he took off to manage the AL in Tuesday's All-Star Game.
"The biggest compliment I can give them is that I love watching them play," Washington said.
Drew Davison, 817-390-7760