August 8, 2011

Harrison wins 10th game in Rangers' rout

The Rangers have five starters with double-digit victories for the first time in club history.

ARLINGTON -- On a team that scores more frequently than all but one other team in the major leagues, someone has to be the starting pitcher who receives the least amount of run support.

Matt Harrison holds the short straw among the Texas Rangers' starting pitchers, although a relatively short straw. The Rangers had scored an average of 4.18 runs in Harrison's first 21 starts this season, but only an average of 2.0 runs in his eight losses.

He had pitched better than the 9-8 record he carried into start No. 22, and an occasional lack of run support was one reason why he was the lone Rangers starter without 10 wins.

But Seattle didn't offer much mound resistance Monday, and Harrison benefited from the Rangers' big night at the plate.

Nelson Cruz sparked the offense with a solo homer as part of a 3 for 4 game, and Harrison became the fifth Rangers starter with 10 victories in a 9-2 win over Seattle.

The Rangers have five starters with double-digit victories for the first time in club history and are the only team in the majors with five starters with at least 10 wins.

For Harrison, a 10-game winner for the first time in his career, simply being a starter is more significant.

"To be at this point of the season and still in the rotation, as opposed to the last two years, is very exciting for me," said Harrison, who threw 102 pitches on a night when it was 104 degrees at first pitch.

"Hopefully, I can just keep giving up a chance to win. If the wins don't come, that's fine. As long as I give everything I have, that's all that matters to me."

The Rangers backed Harrison with 15 hits -- 13 singles -- en route to their 59th game with 10 or more hits. Cruz had the Rangers' only two extra base hits, his 25th homer to start the second and an RBI double in the sixth.

They handed Harrison a 2-0 lead entering the third, but Seattle scored twice with two outs. That doesn't sound like much, but two is a ton for the offense-starved Mariners.

Seattle, which entered with the lowest batting average (.228) in baseball, had scored one run or fewer in 55 consecutive innings against the Rangers before Jack Wilson's two-run double.

Harrison (10-8) was stingy the rest of the way, allowing two hits over his final four innings. He struck out six, and didn't walk a batter for the third time this season.

The Rangers have scored nine runs for Harrison twice this season and 10 once, but they also have scored one or fewer seven times.

"I'm not really worried about that kind of stuff," Harrison said. "It's either going to be there or it's not. You just got to go out there and keep pitching your game, not matter what the score. You've got to at least keep the team in the ballgame."

The Rangers stretched their lead to 1 1/2 games over Los Angeles in the American League West. The Angels were idle before opening a three-game series tonight at Yankee Stadium.

"We had a good approach tonight," manager Ron Washington said. "We stayed in the big part of the field. We made [Mariners starter Charlie Furbush] work and when he came across the plate, we were in position to do some damage." Jeff Wilson, 817-390-7760

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