Harrison goes distance to set up win
Lefty bounces back prior to Rangers' walk-off on Thursday
ARLINGTON -- This one was for Harry.That's what they call left-hander Matt Harrison in the home clubhouse and that's who everybody was thrilled for after the ninth-inning rally that lifted the Rangers to a 3-2 victory over the Mariners at Rangers Ballpark in Arlington. Harrison ended up as the winning pitcher after Hank Blalock hit a leadoff home run and Chris Davis hit a two-run shot, allowing the Rangers to overcome the Mariners' 2-0 lead. "It was great that Chris came through, but I was more happy for Harry," Rangers manager Ron Washington said. "He just stayed in there and battled, got through it and got the victory." Harrison had his consecutive scoreless innings streak end at 22 when he gave up two runs in the fourth. But he still pitched his second complete game and earned his fourth straight victory. "I can't say I didn't get mad when I gave up those runs," Harrison said. "I just wanted to keep battling and hold them right there. Just start another [streak]." He did. He pitched five scoreless innings after the fourth and allowed the Rangers to stay within striking distance. Mariners starter Felix Hernandez held the Rangers scoreless for seven innings and reliever David Aardsma set them down in order in the eighth. But they were able to score three in the ninth against closer Brandon Morrow. "The key for us has been the pitching this year," Blalock said. "The guys have been going deep into games and giving this offense a chance to win some games. It's fun." Harrison is now 4-2 with a 4.23 ERA on the year and 13-5 with a 5.05 ERA in 22 starts since being called up from the Minor Leagues on July 8 last season. Over the past 98 seasons, going back to 1911, Harrison is the only Major League left-handed pitcher to record 12 victories in his first 22 career starts. The last left-hander to get his career off to a better start was Vean Gregg, who won 16 of his first 22 starts for the Indians back in 1911. "Harry has been great," Washington said. "He's working quickly and throwing the ball over the plate. Pitching and defense won it for us today. That's what baseball is all about." Harrison's 22-inning scoreless streak came to an end in the fourth inning after Jose Lopez led off the inning with a single and went to third on a one-out double by Adrian Beltre. Russell Branyan's grounder to short scored one run and Wladimir Balentien's double to left-center brought home a second run. "Those guys were looking for the fastball on the outside corner," Harrison said. "I was able to adjust in and I was fine the rest of the game." Harrison retired 16 of the last 18 batters he faced, allowing only a single and a hit batter. He is now just the fourth American League pitcher to pitch at least two complete games this season. Zack Greinke has pitched four and Tim Wakefield, CC Sabathia and Harrison all have two. He is the first Rangers left-hander to pitch back-to-back complete games since Darren Oliver on May 3-9, 1998. Oliver won just one of those two. The last Rangers left-hander to win two straight complete games was Kenny Rogers, who actually won three straight on May 18, 24 and 29, 1995. Harrison pitches Wednesday in Detroit.
T.R. Sullivan is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.