OAKLAND -- There was a disturbance in the stands behind the visitors' bullpen at McAfee Coliseum on Friday night, and all the Rangers relievers stood up to see what was the problem. A couple of fans, battling over spilled beer and a foul ball, were being escorted away by security, and the incident had nothing to do with the Rangers or their relievers. But it did give them a chance to get off the bench and stretch their legs for the first and almost only time of the night. Other than that, the relievers had little else to do but sit back and enjoy Matt Harrison's mastery of the A's in a 7-0 victory on a chilly evening in the East Bay.
Luis Mendoza did warm up in the ninth, the only Rangers reliever to do so on the evening, and he was close to coming in after Harrison allowed a single and a walk with two out. But shortstop Michael Young made a leaping catch of Jack Hannahan's soft line drive and Harrison had the first complete-game shutout of his career. "I thought he was going to bloop the ball in there," said Harrison, who got the baseball back from Young afterward. "This means a lot to me. I've worked all my life to get here and to accomplish this. I can't tell you how excited I was seeing that last out. It was a great feeling coming off the mound." Harrison is the first Rangers rookie to throw a shutout since R.A. Dickey against the Tigers in 2003, and the first left-hander to do it since Ray Hayward on May 18, 1988, against Toronto. With the victory, Harrison also became the first Texas rookie southpaw to notch eight wins. Harrison beat Athletics rookie left-hander Greg Smith, who allowed six runs over 5 2/3 innings. Hank Blalock gave the Rangers a 1-0 lead with a home run in the second inning, his third in the last three games. Taylor Teagarden, batting ninth in the designated-hitter role, hit a home run in the third inning -- his fifth in nine games. No other Rangers player in history has hit five home runs in his first nine Major League games. Chris Davis drove in a couple of runs with a double and a triple as the Rangers won for the 10th time in their past 17 games. They are now 5 1/2 games ahead of the Athletics in their quest to finish in second place in the American League West. The Rangers also turned two double plays behind Harrison, giving them 180 for the season and breaking the old record of 179 set last year. "The defense played great behind me," Harrison said. Harrison, who threw 118 pitches, allowed five hits while walking four and striking out five. He allowed just two singles and two walks in the final five innings. He had some rough spots in the second, third and fourth innings, but he was able to keep the Athletics off the board by holding them to a rough 0-for-6 with runners in scoring position. "We hit some balls hard early, but he started missing the barrel of the bat after that," Athletics manager Bob Geren said. "He was the star of the game, that's for sure," Rangers manager Ron Washington said. "He stayed in command the whole night and hung in there to finish the game. I didn't want him to throw 120 pitches, but I was hoping he could get Hannahan. That was going to be his last batter." Harrison, one of five players acquired from the Braves last season in the Mark Teixeira trade, is now 8-3 with a 5.06 ERA in 13 starts. More significantly, Harrison is 6-1 with a 3.93 ERA in his past eight starts in his drive to be a member of the Rangers' 2009 rotation. Washington refuses to anoint him or anybody, but Kevin Millwood and Vicente Padilla believe there's no question Harrison is way ahead of all other young pitchers at this late point in the season. "He's showing us he's got something to work with," Washington said. "He still has a ways to go with his offspeed stuff, but he spots his fastball well. He just has to get the offspeed stuff down in the zone. He's just a young kid and just developing. He's got a lot of growth ahead of him, but he's going to be a good one."
T.R. Sullivan is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.