ARLINGTON -- Matt Harrison was right. His luck didn't improve Tuesday.
After missing a start last week due to a blister, then nearly being sidelined by a kidney stone, the Rangers lefty jokingly wondered aloud over the weekend if his luck (and the stone) would allow him to get through the first inning in his next start.
The stone didn't bother him until long after he left the game, he said, and the blister was fine, but the bad luck showed up again. In an 8-1 loss to the Tigers, Harrison thought he had a crucial strikeout in the middle of a fourth-inning jam, only to have a ruling by home-plate umpire Ed Hickox extend his misery.
Harrison was already laboring in the fourth, having allowed a run on three hits and loading the bases with one out. With a 1-2 count, Harrison got Austin Jackson to swing at a pitch near the dirt. But Hickox said the ball was tipped and touched the ground before entering catcher Mike Napoli's glove.
Rangers manager Ron Washington emerged from the dugout to discuss the call with Hickox to no avail.
"I asked him to get help," Washington said. "He said, 'I don't need help, I got him hitting the dirt.'"
Napoli said he thought he caught it, as did Harrison, but regardless, the pitcher did not help himself after the call. Instead, without that potential reprieve, Harrison fell apart. Jackson worked the count to 3-2, then singled in two runs before the Rangers threw out the third runner at home. Casper Wells drove in Jackson with a double before Harrison found his way out of the inning with a strikeout.
Harrison never returned, having thrown 40 of his 89 pitches in the fourth frame alone. Clearly, though he struck out five, Harrison had one fewer strikeout than he needed.
"I've still got to make another pitch even though it didn't go my way that time," Harrison said. "But I left the ball a bit over the plate, and [Jackson] was able to drive the ball into the gap."
Both Harrison and Washington used the words "hitting the wall" to describe the pitcher's fourth inning.
"I wasn't able to make my pitches when I needed to," Harrison said, "and I was falling behind a lot of guys in that fourth inning -- getting a lot of deep counts, giving them too many pitches to look at. When you do that, you're going to get in trouble."
Even if he had gotten the break in the Jackson at-bat, Harrison would have needed to settle down for the Rangers to have a chance against Detroit's Rick Porcello, who forced the Texas hitters to hit ground ball after ground ball; he got 10 groundouts in six innings and only one of the Rangers' six hits off him was in the air. Porcello allowed one earned run, on a Josh Hamilton groundout, and walked one.
"I was able to get ahead in the count early and get some quick outs," Porcello said. "I had a good sinker tonight. I was able to get a lot of ground balls."
Meanwhile, the Tigers tore into the Rangers' bullpen late, collecting two runs on six hits off Dave Bush, one run on four hits off Mark Lowe and a run on two hits off Yoshinori Tateyama. Detroit finished the night with 20 hits, the most off Texas this season.
For the Rangers, only the top of the order found much success against Porcello and three Tigers relievers. Leadoff man Ian Kinsler extended his home hitting streak to 13 games, the second longest of his career, going 2-for-4 with a walk and a run scored, while No. 2 hitter David Murphy reached on singles in each of his first three at-bats.
The Rangers have now lost two straight games and broke a four-series winning streak. Texas pitchers have yielded 38 hits in two games against Detroit this series after giving up just 31 hits in the previous six games combined.
"It seemed like everything they touched fell in," Washington said.
Dave Sessions is a contributor to MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.