ARLINGTON -- Adrian Beltre wasted little time on selecting the biggest storyline of the night, and it wasn't his second career cycle.
No, Beltre said, it had to be the pitching performance by Matt Harrison in the Texas Rangers' 8-0 victory over the Minnesota Twins.
Harrison took a no-hitter into the seventh inning, and destiny seemed to be on his side when David Murphy made a diving catch on a sinking liner by Ryan Doumit for the second out of the inning. It was a Rusty Greer-esque catch from Kenny Rogers' perfect game in 1994.
"You know they say after a no-hitter there is a great catch," Beltre said. "After I saw the catch, I thought he's doing it. He's doing it. And then ..."
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And then came a line-drive single by the next batter, Trevor Plouffe, and the no-hit bid evaporated.
Still, Harrison received a rousing ovation from the 45,823 in attendance at Rangers Ballpark, including a standing ovation from the no-hit king himself, team president and CEO Nolan Ryan.
Beltre brought the crowd back to life in the bottom half of the seventh, singling to right field off Twins reliever Kyle Waldrop to complete the sixth cycle in Rangers history.
Beltre's first three hits were against Minnesota starter Samuel Deduno. He had an RBI triple in the first inning, his first triple in more than two years. He then had a run-scoring double in the second, and started the fifth with a solo home run.
Beltre hit for his first cycle in 2008 against Texas as a member of the Seattle Mariners. He is the first player to hit for the cycle in the same stadium as both a visitor and for the home team.
Who did Beltre get his first three hits against for his cycle on Sept. 1, 2008? None other than Harrison.
But Beltre shot down any notion that he could have gotten three hits off Harrison on Friday.
"No chance," said Beltre, who said his three-homer game Wednesday was more impressive than his cycle.
"Maybe one little blooper, but not three."
Harrison was that dominant from the start, calling it the best outing of his career.
He allowed only three base runners the first six innings on two walks and an error. None of them reached third.
In the seventh, Harrison retired Justin Morneau on a fly to left and then benefitted from the remarkable catch by Murphy.
As Beltre said, everybody sensed that something special could happen for Harrison after that defensive gem.
"That's as good of a break as I've gotten on a ball all year long," Murphy said. "It's fun to make a play like that in that situation. Just an instinct type of play and go get it."
Said Harrison: "I knew when he made that play right there, there was a chance to do it tonight. I guess that's what I get for thinking about it, and the very next batter gets a base hit."
Harrison felt he made a quality pitch to Plouffe, who lined a 2-1 changeup into left field to end the no-hit talk after 62/3 innings. Harrison joked that he hadn't shaken off catcher Luis Martinez the entire at-bat, and chose the wrong time to do so.
"He wanted fastball, and I wanted to throw changeup," Harrison said. "I thought I could get him out in front enough to roll over, but he got enough bat on it to put it over the infield. ... It's over with. It was a good piece of hitting, and move on."
Harrison gave up a single to Jamey Carroll in the next at-bat but retired the final four batters he faced. He set a career-high by winning his 15th game and lowered his season ERA to 3.04.
"He was a pitcher in complete control from the first pitch on," manager Ron Washington said. "You get deep in the game like that, you want it. It didn't happen, but he was locked in."
Drew Davison, 817-390-7760