Published August 08, 2011
ARLINGTON, Texas – Matt Harrison needed 31 pitches to work through a shaky third inning.
Then Harrison regained his composure, allowing two hits in the final four innings of his 102-pitch outing to get his career-high 10th victory in the Texas Rangers' 9-2 win over the Seattle Mariners on Monday night.
Harrison allowed two runs and five hits with six strikeouts and no walks in 104-degree heat, and Nelson Cruz backed him with a homer.
Harrison (10-8) surpassed his nine-win rookie season in 2008.
"I think it's just a matter of staying mentally tough and when I get into tough situations, I tell myself, 'You're one pitch from getting out of this,'" Harrison said. "So far, I've been lucky it doesn't happen every time, but for the most part, I've been able to minimize the damage and make a pitch when I have to."
After his strong rookie season, Harrison went 7-7 the following two years, spending three stints on the disabled list during that span.
This season he's been healthy and in better shape, and the results have been obvious.
All five members of the Rangers rotation now have double-digit wins, the first time in team history that five starters have reached 10 wins in a season.
"You don't always get that, so we're very lucky." Rangers manager Ron Washington said. "And we're lucky in the fact that they've stayed healthy. Those guys have taken the ball each time it's come to them and they've given us some great ballgames. They've shown some resiliency and I just hope they continue it."
Cruz, Mitch Moreland and Yorvit Torrealba all had three hits for the AL West-leading Rangers, who stretched their lead over second-place Los Angeles 1½ games. The Angels had the night off.
The Rangers scored twice in the second against rookie Charlie Furbush (1-1) with the help of the Mariners' second error of the night.
Cruz snapped an 0 for 15 slide when he led off the second with a homer to left, and Mike Napoli reached second on third baseman Adam Kennedy's fielding error.
Napoli went to third on a groundout and scored on Moreland's single.
Jack Wilson's two-out, two-run double in the third tied it at 2, but the Rangers answered with two runs in the fourth on RBI groundouts by David Murphy and Ian Kinsler.
Napoli was Harrison's catcher, and he was impressed with the way Harrison bounced back in the fourth.
"He was great, had a little hiccup in the (third) inning and came out the next inning and threw up a zero, to give us a chance to get the lead back," Napoli said. "We put up a couple of runs and he was great from there on. He had a good sinking fastball and mixed in his offspeed when he had to, just executed pitches when he needed to."
Furbush allowed seven runs — six earned — and eight hits over four-plus innings in his second start for the Mariners since he was acquired from Detroit in a trade on July 30.
The Mariners are converting Furbush from relief to starter, and they know there will be growing pains along the way.
"You've got to like his arm, you've got to like his stuff, but being comfortable and being familiar with those type situations, that's the kind of hump you've got to get over," manager Eric Wedge said.
When the Rangers loaded the bases with nobody out in the fifth on two walks and a single, Wedge brought in ex-Ranger Jamie Wright from the bullpen.
The Rangers kept up the pressure in the inning with RBI singles by Napoli and Torrealba, and a bases-loaded walk to Moreland for a 7-2 pad.
In the sixth, Cruz's RBI double and Napoli's run-scoring single off Tom Wilhelmsen made it 9-2.
The Mariners, 2-9 against the Rangers this season, have lost 22 of 28. But they had been on a decent run lately, winning six of 10 entering Monday night.
NOTES: Seattle 1B Justin Smoak missed his fifth straight game with a left thumb injury. Smoak took early batting practice on Monday and was confident he could return to the lineup soon. ... Rangers RHP Alexi Ogando was back with the team after spending the weekend in the Dominican Republic for the birth of his child. Ogando will be activated off the paternity list to make Tuesday night's scheduled start against Seattle. The Mariners will start RHP Michael Pineda, the AL rookie leader in innings pitched (130), strikeouts (133) and opponent batting average (.205). ... In the fourth, Texas' Josh Hamilton and Cruz tried to stretch singles into doubles, but they were thrown out at second on outfield assists by Trayvon Robinson and Ichiro Suzuki. ... Kinsler had been 4 for 48 before he singled in the seventh.