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TEX@SEA: Harrison throws six strong in 2014 debut

Left-hander Matt Harrison will make his first appearance at home for the Rangers since April 6, 2013 when he pitches against the Rockies on Thursday night.

Harrison will be trying to stop third baseman Nolan Arenado's 27-game hitting streak, which ties the club record. Arenado tied Michael Cuddyer with a two-run double in the first inning on Wednesday night. Rockies manager Walt Weiss said Arenado is not getting caught up in the streak.

"He's got a genuine love of the game, and I think that trumps everything else," Weiss said. "He loves to play it, loves to practice it, loves to be on the field. It's very genuine and authentic. I think he just loves the life."

Franklin Morales is scheduled to pitch for the Rockies in a battle of left-handers who are both trying to get on a roll. As expected in an Interleague game, both starters have not pitched much against the other team.

Harrison has made his first two starts on the road since returning from back problems and has a 4.35 ERA After his last home start against the Angels last year, he went on the disabled list with a herniated disc in his lower back and missed the rest of the season.

He is 23-15 with a 4.45 ERA on 48 career starts and 18 relief appearances at home in his career with the Rangers. He is 7-3 with a 3.41 ERA in his last 11 starts here.

"It's going to be good, the first time pitching in front of all our fans," Harrison said. "I will have a little more adrenaline flowing. I just need to go out there and settle those Rockies bats down, make my pitches and make them feel comfortable."

One of those starts came against the Rockies on June 24, 2012, when he threw five scoreless innings in a 4-2 victory. It's his only appearance ever against the Rockies and he is 5-2 with a 2.49 ERA in 10 career starts and four relief appearances in Interleague Play. Justin Morneau, who is 2-for-11 off Harrison, is the only Rockies player with more than four at-bats against him.

"It a good thing in my favor," Harrison said. "They haven't seen me much before. I know they like to swing the bat so I need to make my pitches and keep the ball down."

Morales is trying to secure his spot in the rotation that he won in Spring Training and is holding onto because of injuries to Brett Anderson and Tyler Chadwick. He was 0-1 with a 6.94 ERA in two starts before going to the bullpen and is 3-0 with a 4.30 ERA in four starts since his one relief appearance.

He has made six career relief appearances against the Rangers, allowing six earned runs in six innings. Prince Fielder is 1-for-5 with a walk against him, the only Rangers player with more than three at-bats against him.

On Saturday, he gave up six runs in the first three innings but settled for two scoreless innings. He actually was in shape for a win after the Rockies came back for eight runs in the bottom of the fifth. Ultimately he ended up with a no-decision in an 11-10 victory. But Weiss lauded the fact Morales lasted five, which took pressure off a tired bullpen and allowed the Rockies to come back on a night when he ball was flying and the hits were falling.

"I couldn't go to the bullpen any earlier than I did -- we didn't have enough bodies to get through the game," Weiss said. "I want to say about 'Frankie,' it was a tough start for him, but sometimes the game is won by a starter by not giving up that extra one or two. He gave up six but that ultimately may win the game for us."

Rangers: Moreland might see lefty
Manager Ron Washington is considering the possibility of putting designated hitter Mitch Moreland's left-handed bat in the lineup on Thursday even with Morales on the mound. If so, it would be Moreland's first start against a left-hander since facing Cliff Lee on Opening Day.

Moreland hasn't played much this week. He didn't start on Sunday in Anaheim because left-hander Tyler Skaggs was on the mound. He was also out of the lineup on Monday and Tuesday while the Rangers were in Colorado because a designated hitter wasn't being used at the National League park.

The Rangers returned to Arlington on Wednesday but went up against left-hander Jorge De La Rosa. Washington said that was not a good fit for Moreland but may start him against Morales. "He's a more conventional left-hander," Washington said.

"You definitely want to be in there," Moreland said. "It's just one of those things, you've got to stay ready when your number is called. I'm just trying to keep the same game plan: grind out those at-bats, square the ball up and hit it hard."

Rockies: Always looking to turn two
The Rockies' infielders are big -- Arenado being the shortest at 6-foot-2 -- but they're athletic and have range. Their abilities show up in the number of double plays they turn. Colorado went into Wednesday night having pulled off 34, second in the Majors to the Dodgers with 37. But it's more than having dependable glove men.

The pitching staff entered Wednesday with the highest ground-ball rate in the Majors -- 65.6 percent.

"We're confident in the fact that if our pitcher executes a pitch, if he gets us that ground ball and puts it in our hands, we're going to make plays," shortstop Troy Tulowitzki said. "We want those pitchers to feel the same way, and they're starting to gain the confidence that we have something special."

Worth noting
• Adrian Beltre, with a two-run home run on Wednesday, has 100 home runs with the Rangers. He had 147 home runs with the Dodgers and 103 with the Mariners. Only four other players in Major League history have hit at least 100 home runs with three different teams: Darrell Evans (Braves, Giants, Tigers); Reggie Jackson (Athletics, Yankees, Angels); Alex Rodriguez (Mariners, Rangers. Yankees) and Jim Thome (Indians, White Sox, Phillies).

• Shin-Soo Choo started at designated hitter for the Rangers on Wednesday as he continues to nurse a sore left ankle. Choo could see much time at DH when left-handers are on the mound this season because it will allow his ankle some extra rest and it gives Michael Choice a chance to play the outfield.

• Rockies hitters are 31-for-67 (.463) with 18 runs scored in 14 innings against Rangers starters over the past three games.

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