ARLINGTON -- Matt Harrison played video hockey at his locker before Friday night's start against the Mets. He lost the game.
"I quit," he said. "I'm not very good at hockey."
Harrison is good at pitching when strange things aren't happening to him, and he was good on Friday night, allowing just one run in seven innings in an 8-1 victory over the Mets at Rangers Ballpark. With all his troubles behind him, Harrison was able to pitch the Rangers to their fifth win in seven games.
"It was nice to go out there and not have to deal with anything," Harrison said. "I would have to say this is a rebound game. I felt really good, and I'm looking forward to my next start."
Maybe losing the hockey video game was his one bad karma moment of the night instead of having to deal with something unexpected on a baseball field. Maybe Harrison's baseball luck is changing.
"Sometimes in baseball you get challenged," Rangers manager Ron Washington said. "You either have to step up to the plate or you don't get the bat off your shoulder. Harry has been challenged, and he is stepping up to the plate."
A sellout crowd of 46,062 filled Rangers Ballpark as the Mets were making only their second appearance here. It was their first since 2003, and a two-run home run by Adrian Beltre gave the Rangers a 3-0 lead in the first inning.
"It was pretty sweet out there tonight," designated hitter Michael Young said. "We were talking in the dugout about how much fun it is to play in front of a big crowd. There isn't a home team that doesn't love playing in front of a packed crowd. It was great."
Young had one of three two-run homers hit by the Rangers, who had never faced Mets starter Mike Pelfrey before the series opener. The Rangers have now won 19 of their last 24 games against National League teams in Interleague Play.
"Hopefully our guys were prepared," Mets manager Terry Collins said. "Hopefully they came in and knew what they were going to have to face, and that's why I say it's important you really concentrate and get yourself ready to make pitches. You're going to give up some home runs in this park to this lineup, but if they're solo homers you can get through that."
Josh Hamilton hit a two-run home run in the eighth, the 100th long ball of his career. He had an RBI single in the first. The Rangers are 17-7 when he drives in at least one run in a game. Beltre's home run was his 13th of the season, but just his first in 14 games and his second in his last 25 games. The Rangers are 12-1 in games in which he has hit a home run.
Harrison, who has spent the past six weeks dealing with a litany of strange events and injuries, allowed just four hits and a walk while striking out seven. He is now 6-6 with a 3.00 ERA on the season.
"I knew they're a high-ball hitting team, so I was just trying to keep the ball down," Harrison said. "I had a little trouble early in the game, and had more three-ball counts than I wanted. But I was able to battle through it."
Harrison is 3-3 with a 1.95 ERA in his last eight starts despite dealing, at times, with a finger blister, kidney stone, bruised triceps muscle, a two-hour rain delay, and one rainout that erased a 4-0 lead after four innings.
"He's focused," Washington said. "Every time he got into trouble tonight he was able to stay focused and pitch out of it. He's pitching with confidence, and he's strong, physically and mentally. When you're physically strong, you're able to pitch as long as it takes, and when you're mentally strong, you're able to make pitches when you have to."
T.R. Sullivan is a reporter for MLB.com. Read his blog, Postcards from Elysian Fields, and follow him on Twitter @Sullivan_Ranger. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.