Harrison throttles Mariners for much-needed win

Harrison throttles Mariners for much-needed win

Harrison throttles Mariners for much-needed win
ARLINGTON - Ron Washington manages on faith. On trusting his players.

That belief worked yet again in Sunday's 2-1 victory over Seattle at Rangers Ballpark in Arlington.

Wells Fargo

Washington let a refreshed Matt Harrison pitch into the ninth inning, then put the last out in reliever Koji Uehara's hands in order to let closer Joe Nathan have two more days off with the Rangers locked in a division race with the surging Oakland A's.

Harrison got the first two outs mixed in with a walk. Then after he gave up a single to Jesus Montero, Washington went to the right-handed Uehara with the left-handed-hitting Michael Saunders due up. Uehara, whose splitter is highly effective against lefties, got Saunders to swing at a 2-2 pitch in the dirt to seal a much-needed victory for the Rangers.

The Rangers won yet another series -- they've won eight of their last nine -- and with the A's 9-5 loss against Baltimore, added to their lead for the first time since Sept. 6. The Rangers are three games up on the A's with 16 games left, seven of which are against Oakland.

The Rangers traded for Uehara last season hoping he would give them depth in the bullpen, but he struggled and wasn't on the active roster in the World Series. After a week in which the Japanese reliever appeared in five of six games, and asked to pitch in the other, he could be an important piece of a postseason bullpen.

Washington said so, putting him out there in a key moment after the bullpen had lost two games on this now-completed homestand.

"I thought Koji could get the one out we needed," Washington said. "We show that we have confidence in him by bringing him to get that last out."

The majority of the day belonged to Harrison, who won his ninth straight start against the Mariners (only Dave Stewart with 14 and Pedro Martinez with 12 have won more in a row against Seattle). Harrison is 10-1 against Seattle and 4-0 against the Mariners this season. He's allowed them three runs in the last 32 innings.

Harrison had everything going Sunday, his breaking ball and changeup in particular. He delivered a clutch start after waiting out a 2-hour and 12-minute rain delay before the game's first pitch.

He went 8 2/3 innings and scattered six hits. He was helped out by three double plays, two of which he started himself.

Harrison won his second straight start after a brief two-game losing streak. He won his 17th game, the first Rangers' lefty to do so since Kenny Rogers in 1995. Harrison is one of four AL pitchers to have 17 wins this season, just one behind Tampa Bay's David Price.

"Everything we needed from him he gave to us," Washington said. "That should put to rest him being fatigued."

The Rangers needed Harrison to be at his best because former Rangers first-round Draft pick Blake Beavan also had a strong outing. Beavan held the Rangers scoreless into the fourth, when he ran into Adrian Beltre, who slammed his 14th home run in 24 games.

Mitch Moreland, who struck out with the tying runs on base in Friday's loss, gave the Rangers a 2-0 lead in the fifth when ripped a double just inside the first-base bag, scoring David Murphy from first.

The Mariners never got a runner past first base until the eighth, when another former Rangers farmhand, Justin Smoak, launched a 3-2 pitch from Harrison into the center-field seats to cut the Rangers lead to 2-1.

Harrison started the ninth by getting Dustin Ackley to fly out to center, then after a walk, got Kyle Seager to pop out to shortstop. Even after Montero's hit, Harrison said he thought he could get Washington to let him face Saunders.

"I didn't see that he had already signaled for Koji," Harrison said. "I tried to talk him into letting me pitch to the lefty. But I know Koji has done a great job against lefties. It worked out."

Todd Wills is a contributor to MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.