Harrison’s 5-hitter leads Rangers past Athletics

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OAKLAND, Calif. (AP)—Matt Harrison has proven to be a good student. Texas manager Ron Washington gave him a passing mark for his latest effort.

Harrison pitched a five-hitter for his first career shutout and complete game and the Rangers beat the Oakland Athletics 7-0 on Friday night.

“Every time I go out I want to learn something new, whether it’s pitch selection or pitch location, what to do when I’m ahead in the count,” Harrison said. “I had to get through those first few innings. After that I kind of got in a groove and kept throwing strikes.”

Standing in front of his locker, Harrison looked like a veteran. He appeared calm and casual, not like a kid who just threw his first shutout.

“It means a lot to me,” he acknowledged. “I worked all my life trying to get here. To accomplish this is a great feeling. I can’t really explain how excited I was when we made that final out. It was just great.”

Washington, who has been around the game a little longer than Harrison, was the giddy one in the clubhouse.

“He was the star. He stayed in command the whole night,” Washington said. “When he was in trouble he made the pitches he needed to make to get out of it. He’s showing that he’s got something to work with. He’s still a work in progress but we have something to work with. Of all the young kids we brought up, he’s the one that stayed in the rotation. He’s developing and he’s got a lot of growth.”

Hank Blalock hit a home run for third consecutive game and Taylor Teagarden also homered for the Rangers, who won their second straight and third of four overall. Texas moved 5 1/2 games ahead of the A’s in its bid to finish second in the AL West.

Harrison (8-3) allowed four hits in the first five innings, retiring 14 of the last 16 batters he faced. He walked three and struck out five in setting a left-handed rookie pitching record for wins.

Greg Smith (7-15), coming off one of his best efforts of the season, gave up six runs on seven hits over 5 2-3 innings. He walked two and struck out two while becoming the losingest pitcher for Oakland since Tom Candiotti lost 16 games in 1998.

“This start was just bad pitches,” Smith said. “If I didn’t leave the ball in the middle I left it up. Maybe it’s just a mechanics’ issue because I don’t feel fatigued or anything like that.”

Despite a couple of hard hit balls from Jack Cust and Aaron Cunningham, who each hit doubles, the A’s never mounted much of a threat against Harrison.

“We hit some balls hard early but the ball didn’t find the barrel of the bat much after that,” A’s manager Bob Geren said. “He threw a lot of pitches but he stayed consistently around 93 miles per hour throughout.”

The Rangers turned a pair of double plays to establish a club record with 180.

Blalock, who also had a sacrifice fly, hit his seventh home run of the season to open the scoring with two outs in the second. The three homers he’s hit in the past three games all came against left-handers.

Teagarden hit his fifth home run in his last eight games. He leads the Rangers with 11 RBIs and seven extra-base hits in September.

“It’s the best I’ve felt all year,” Teagarden said. “I’m getting an opportunity and I guess I’m just making the most of it. I do feel a lot more calm and comfortable than I have all year.”

Chris Davis drove in two runs for the Rangers, and Gerald Laird and Nelson Cruz also drove in runs.

Notes:

Harrison has a 2.72 ERA in his eight wins and a 10.80 ERA in his other five starts. … Rangers’ starters have a combined 2.52 ERA over their last 11 road games. … A’s 2B Mark Ellis was presented with the Dave Stewart Community Service Award before the game. … A’s IF Cliff Pennington singled to extend his hitting streak to seven games.

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