ARLINGTON -- Texas rookie left-hander Matt Harrison was thrilled when he did not walk a batter over eight scoreless innings in his last start. On Friday night, that thrill was gone after just two batters and it proved to be a portent of bad things to come. Harrison, coming off his best outing of the season, allowed five runs in the first two innings and the Rangers were unable to completely extricate themselves from that hole, losing to the Indians, 7-5, at Rangers Ballpark in Arlington. The Rangers have lost four of their last five and 12 of their last 15 games to fall three games under .500.
This was the first game for the Rangers under their new defensive alignment of Hank Blalock at first base and Chris Davis at third, and both handled their new positions smoothly. Defense wasn't the problem for the Rangers on Friday night, it was in pitching and hitting where they were found lacking. < p /> Marlon Byrd hit a three-run home run for the Rangers in the eighth inning to provide most of the offense, but it wasn't enough to overcome Harrison's early troubles. He beat the Rays, 5-0, in his last start by combining a well-located 93-mph fastball with an effective changeup and breaking ball. But none of that was there for him Friday night. "The difference between him tonight and five days ago was location," manager Ron Washington said. "He was missing his location. He had good velocity, but he just wasn't able to hit his spots. He threw a couple of good breaking balls but wasn't consistent with them. He couldn't get his changeups where he wanted them, and when he threw his fastball, he left it over the plate." Harrison retired the first batter on one pitch. Grady Sizemore, perhaps attempting to test Blalock in his first start at first base, tried to drag bunt but popped out instead. Harrison then got ahead, 1-2, on Jamey Carroll and proceeded to walk him with three straight balls. "It's definitely frustrating to get ahead of a hitter like that and walk him," Harrison said. "The first couple of innings, I kept getting ahead of hitters and couldn't put them away." Ben Francisco then singled to left and, after Jhonny Peralta flied out, Ryan Garko ripped a double to deep center just beyond center fielder Josh Hamilton's reach, bringing home two runs. The Indians added three more in the second. Sal Fasano led off with a single and scored on a triple by Andy Marte. Asdrubal Cabrera's sacrifice fly made it 4-0, and the Indians added one more in the inning on a one-out walk to Sizemore and a pair of two-out singles by Francisco and Peralta. "The first couple of innings I kept leaving balls up and didn't make an adjustment until the third inning," Harrison said. "I wish I had those first couple innings back, but that's the way it goes. I need to make a quicker adjustment." Harrison, who had a three-game winning streak snapped, was gone after 3 2/3 innings in the second shortest of his nine starts for the Rangers. Kameron Loe, taking over for Harrison, pitched 4 1/3 scoreless innings and has 9 1/3 shutout innings since being recalled from Triple-A Oklahoma.
But the Rangers couldn't mount much of a comeback against Indians starter Fausto Carmona.The Rangers managed six hits and three walks in six innings against Carmona but could only manage one unearned run because they were just 1-for-8 with runners in scoring position against him and 2-for-10 on the night overall. Blalock was 0-for-4 in the fifth spot, including three at-bats with runners in scoring position. "Carmona had his good stuff, and when he's on, he's tough to get runs off of," Blalock said. "I felt the whole night I was trying to do too much, trying to be too big at the plate. Tomorrow, I need to relax a little more." Texas' only run off Carmona came in the fourth when Chris Davis reached on Carmona's error, went to second on a wild pitch and scored on a single by Jarrod Saltalamacchia. Byrd's three-run home run made it a 5-4 game off of reliever Rafael Perez, but the Indians scored two in the ninth off of reliever Eddie Guardado, who forced in one of the runs with a bases-loaded walk. That kept the Rangers from tying it on Brandon Boggs' leadoff home run in the bottom of the ninth.
T.R. Sullivan is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.