TORONTO -- Matt Harrison spent five minutes apiece talking with manager Ron Washington and pitching coach Mike Maddux about why he should be left in the game for the ninth.
He might have spent more time campaigning than he did to get through innings, and his message wasn't too complicated.
"Uh, I have  pitches," Harrison said.
Yes, Harrison was that efficient with his pitches through eight strong and quick innings, but didn't get a chance to close out the Rangers' 11-2 victory over the Blue Jays on Sunday at the Rogers Centre.
Mark Lowe, who last pitched Aug. 13, worked a perfect ninth to finish off a crisp 2-hour, 34-minute game, as the Rangers took the best-of-three series 2-1. They maintained a five-game lead in the American League West over Oakland, which beat Cleveland.
The desire to stay in the game has become another sign of the workhorse mentality that Harrison has carried with him throughout the season. He has been the most effective and consistent starter for the Rangers, and matched his win total (14) from last season with more than six weeks to go.
Washington would have liked to see Harrison throw his fourth complete game, but echoed the same line as to why he pulled Roy Oswalt one out away from qualifying for a win Saturday.
"We knew Harry could finish that game, but it was about doing what we needed to do for the team," Washington said. "Harry didn't want to come out because he's become that type of pitcher. He wants to finish what he started, but he understood."
Harrison gave up an early run in the second inning, but the offense had no issues coming back from that deficit.
David Murphy led off the third with a double to center off Toronto starter Henderson Alvarez, and Geovany Soto and Mitch Moreland followed with consecutive RBI singles to put Texas up 2-1.
The Rangers made it 3-1 in the fourth on a run-scoring double by Murphy, and then broke it open with a five-run fifth.
Michael Young highlighted the inning with a three-run home run, his first blast since May 7. Young then drove in a pair of runs in the sixth inning.
"I thought we had a really good team approach," Young said. "I thought we did a pretty good job of staying in the strike zone and making sure we got strikes to hit."
Pitching with a lead is nice, Harrison said, but you don't want to get too relaxed. He felt he did that when he gave up a solo homer to Blue Jays third baseman Mike McCoy in the fifth.
"Nothing against McCoy, but I didn't throw that pitch with much conviction and that's what happens when you relax too much," Harrison said. "It kind of locked me back in. From that point on, I was a lot more aggressive."
Harrison went on to retire the next 11 batters to finish his day, allowing two runs on two hits with one walk and seven strikeouts. It was his deepest outing since a shutout July15 at Seattle.
Harrison said the biggest difference between him at this point this season compared with last season has been his ability to pitch even when he doesn't have his best stuff. Preparing before the game in the bullpen, Harrison estimated he threw 20 balls in the dirt.
"I knew I didn't have my best stuff, but stayed relaxed and tried not to overthrow," he said.
He did that, and his teammates have seen it all season. Along with matching his win total from last season, Harrison became the first left-hander to win 10 road games in Rangers history.
"We know what he's been capable of for a long time," Murphy said. "He's been a ground ball machine, and he's got stuff to strike you out when he wants to. He's a power left-hander and there aren't a whole lot of those .... He was intent coming into this year to lead the staff. He's been an All-Star and he's done it well. Hopefully it only gets better from here."
Drew Davison, 817-390-7760