CHICAGO — They had an embarrassing 17-run loss on Tuesday. They blew a three-run lead and lost in extra innings on Wednesday. And, on Thursday, they wasted a strong start by Matt Harrison.The Texas Rangers hadn’t been swept in a three-game series all season, and had gone a major league-leading 52 consecutive series avoiding a sweep of three-or-more games. It came to an end, though, when the White Sox held on for a 2-1 victory over the Rangers in the series finale at U.S. Cellular Field.The Rangers have lost four straight, but will have at least a four-game lead in the American League West when they open a three-game series against Minnesota tonight.
“We’re in first place in the West, that’s where we are. That’s what this series told us,” manager Ron Washington said. “We lost three ballgames, but we’re in first place in the West.”
Still, Washington admitted it was a disappointing loss with the way Harrison pitched. He turned in a complete-game effort, allowing two runs on eight hits, an unfitting way for his seven-game winning streak to end.
“Usually when the other team scores two runs, we figure we have a chance to win that game,” Washington said. “Matt pitched well. He finished the game, and did a good job.”
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Harrison regretted one at-bat, and it wasn’t a solo home run he served up to Kevin Youkilis in the sixth. Instead, Harrison pointed to a one-out walk he issued to Youkilis in the fourth, which led to a run later in the inning on a groundout by Alexei Ramirez.
In the top of the fourth, the Rangers had taken a 1-0 lead on an RBI single by Adrian Beltre.
“I was definitely pretty upset about that,” Harrison said. “They tied the game back up and put momentum back on their side.”
It could have been worse for Harrison. After the run scored, he issued a two-out walk to Dayan Viciedo to load the bases, but minimized damage and got out of it by striking out Tyler Flowers.
Harrison ran into trouble again in the sixth.
Youkilis, who was the walk-off hero Wednesday, came through a second consecutive game. He turned on Harrison’s 1-1 sinker, driving an opposite field homer over the right-field fence to lead off the sixth. Harrison felt it was a good pitch, and gave credit to Youkilis for getting to it.
It was the first home run Harrison had allowed since June 3, a stretch of 43 1/3 innings. He also took his first loss since May 12 despite lowering his ERA to 3.10.
“Good start, but unfortunately we didn’t get the win,” Harrison said.
The win went to the White Sox and rookie left-hander Jose Quintana, who held the Rangers to two hits with one walk and eight strikeouts.
After the fourth inning, the Rangers had one base runner reach against Quintana and Addison Reed. The two hits were a season low for the Rangers, and the fewest they’ve had since June 12, 2011, at Minnesota.
“He maintained his sequence the whole game, but I think it was more of us than him,” said shortstop Elvis Andrus, who went 0 for 4. “It’s frustrating when Harry is busting his butt and we don’t support him with enough runs. But we’ve got to turn the page right now.”
Drew Davison, (817) 390-7760Twitter: @drewdavison