Athletics-Rangers Preview

JEFF MEZYDLO (STATS Senior Writer)
The Associated Press

Some back tightness and a sore hip will not keep Matt Harrison from trying to earn his AL-leading 11th win.

The left-hander looks for his seventh straight victory while trying to help the Texas Rangers continue their recent home success against the Oakland Athletics on Friday night.

Harrison (10-3, 3.24 ERA) is 6-0 with a 1.66 ERA in eight starts since losing to the Los Angeles Angels on May 12. He's allowed one run over 27 1-3 innings while going 3-0 in his last four starts but left his last outing earlier than expected.

Harrison did not yield a run in a 4-2 win over Colorado, but departed after throwing 74 pitches in five innings because of a sore hip brought on by back tightness.

"They decided to be cautious with it and shut it down to make sure I'm ready for the next start and I don't blow out anything," Harrison told the Rangers' official website.

Apparently healthy and ready, Harrison faces an Oakland team that he's gone 4-1 with a 3.15 ERA against in seven starts. He gave up three runs and eight hits in 5 1-3 innings of a 5-4, 10-inning loss to the A's on May 17.

The AL West-leading Rangers (48-29) beat Oakland for the ninth time in 11 home games, 7-6 on Thursday. Ian Kinsler had four hits while Josh Hamilton, Adrian Beltre and David Murphy each had two RBIs to help Texas win its third in a row and 15th in 20 overall.

"Their lineup, one through nine, it's one of the best in the big leagues, if not the best, Oakland rookie catcher Derek Norris said. "And any time you put guys on base and give them a free pass, you're just asking for trouble."

Though Texas ranks among the AL leaders with 98 home runs, it did not have one Thursday. Instead, the Rangers stole four bases and drew six walks while recording 14 hits.

"Some people call it small ball. I call it winning baseball,'' manager Ron Washington said. "That's just doing what the game asks you to do. We're starting to get back to that. That's what we're doing.''

Kinsler is 8 for 14 in the last three games after going 2 for 21 in his previous five. He's batted .478 during an 11-game home hitting streak against the A's.

Averaging 6.6 runs in their last 11 home games versus Oakland, the Rangers get their first look at scheduled starter A.J. Griffin (0-0, 3.00). In his major league debut Sunday, the right-hander gave up a two-run homer and two other hits in six innings of a 4-2 win over San Francisco.

"I just wanted to go out there and give us a good chance to win," Griffin told the Athletics' official website.

Yoenis Cespedes and Coco Crisp each had three hits Thursday for the A's (37-40), who failed to hold a 4-1 lead. Cespedes is 10 for 16 with six RBIs in five games versus Texas.

Norris had two hits, including his second homer, in the opener. The Oakland catcher is 6 for 19 (.316) with five RBIs in five games since being called up from Triple-A Sacramento on June 21.