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OAK@TEX: Harrison dominates in Rangers' shutout win

ARLINGTON -- The Rangers completed a four-game sweep of the A's on Sunday, winning, 2-0, behind 7 2/3 innings of strong pitching from Matt Harrison and a timely Adrian Beltre home run.

Harrison (7-7) was masterful, refusing to let a runner reach third base while he was on the hill. He went right after the Oakland lineup, forcing them to beat him by putting pitches in play.

"I knew I had to keep attacking the zone and make them put the ball in play," Harrison said. "With a team like that, when you walk the guys, you're giving them a chance. You don't want to make a mistake, but you've still got to make them swing the bats."

Harrison did exactly that, only walking one batter, a two-out free pass to Chris Carter in the second inning. Aside from that, the A's had to swing away, with little success.

"It was what we needed, especially in that heat," Rangers manager Ron Washington said. "He was prepared for it, he went out there and he did an excellent job. He really did."

There appears to be quite a bit of chemistry between catcher Mike Napoli and Harrison. In seven starts together, Harrison is 5-2 with a 1.40 ERA in 45 innings.

"He was great," Napoli said. "He threw all of his pitches for strikes. He did what he needed to do, throw up zeroes and give us a chance to win."

For the game, Harrison pitched 7 2/3 scoreless innings, allowing six hits and one walk compared to seven strikeouts.

After the first five innings, the only Oakland player who could keep up with Harrison was his opposing number, A's starter Trevor Cahill. Both had pitched five scoreless innings to that point.

"To me it's a challenge when they other guy is pitching that well," Cahill said. "Harrison was pitching pretty good. His velocity was higher than I've seen. He was electric from our dugout."

Cahill made the only mistake, walking Josh Hamilton with two outs on a 3-2 pitch, then allowing a two-run home run to Beltre.

"He's an All-Star," Washington said. "He's a great player and he's proven that. He not only comes in to do his job, he comes to win. And that's what it's about."

Beltre tied a career high by homering in three consecutive games. He has not only been hitting home runs often for the Rangers, he's hit them at optimal times.

The home run on Saturday tied up the ballgame, and the home run on Sunday provided the game's only offense.

Cahill (8-7) pitched well enough to win for Oakland, holding the Rangers to just the sixth-inning home run, but he came away with a tough-luck loss.

Neftali Feliz pitched a scoreless ninth to earn his 18th save.

Between Harrison, Lowe and Feliz, the Rangers chalked up their 10th shutout, the most of any Rangers team heading into the All-Star break.

Even though Harrison had pitched well, the game was still undecided when he left in the eighth, because the A's had Josh Willingham at the plate and a runner on first.

"When Willingham came up, he was the one guy in that lineup who can pop the ball out of the ballpark," Washington said. "I wasn't going to let that happen. I'd rather put Mark Lowe in."

But Napoli got the final out when he nailed Coco Crisp trying to steal second during Willingham's at-bat. For the season, opposing basestealers are 8-for-13 against Napoli. The .385 caught-stealing percentage is the highest of any season in Napoli's career.

"I work to get better every day," Napoli said. "Things are working out right now, and I'm just trying to stay the same."

After going .500 through the first 46 games, the Rangers head to the All-Star break 10 games above .500, their highest total so far this season.

Since a 2-0 loss to the Phillies on May 21 dropped them to 23-23, the Rangers have gone 28-18 since. They finished the first half with a one-game lead in the American League West.

"We've finally got the type of baseball moving in the direction we're capable of playing," Washington said. "That's what we did. It was a while coming, but we finally got there. We know what we have to do and how we have to do it." Comments