SURPRISE, Ariz. -- Continuing to build up to Opening Day, a pair of aces met on Saturday at Surprise Stadium, with Matt Harrison and Clayton Kershaw each turning in dominant performances in their longest outings of the spring, as the Rangers went on to defeat the Dodgers, 4-0, in Cactus League action.
Pitching in his first spring training game since being scratched last Saturday with toe inflammation, Harrison went toe-to-toe with his Dodgers counterpart, going five innings and allowing only one hit while striking out three. He was economical in his outing as well, throwing just 57 pitches.
"Anytime I can be efficient is good, I can go deeper into games," Harrison said. "It's big for the confidence, it shows me I'm being aggressive and pounding the strike zone."
Harrison added that he didn't feel any lingering effects from the injury during his outing. Before Saturday, his longest outing was three innings, back on March 2 against the D-backs.
"I was able to drag my foot, there were no issues at all," Harrison said. "I'm not in a groove yet, but I feel like I'm back on track. The biggest thing was that my velocity was back up."
Kershaw tossed six scoreless frames, allowing just two hits while striking out six. He threw 70 pitches, 47 for strikes. The left-hander has now thrown 19 innings this spring and hasn't given up a run over his last 11.
Even though it was only a Cactus League game, Harrison enjoyed matching up against Kershaw as well.
"He's a great pitcher, you have to do all you can to put up zeros, because he's going to do the same thing," he said. "It's a fun game to pitch in."
David Murphy drove in the first run of the game on a solo home run off Brandon League in a four-run seventh inning.
"That was ideal contact," Murphy said. "It felt nice, even if it's just spring training."
Jason Frasor and Josh Lindblom each provided scoreless innings in relief for the Rangers to preserve the shutout.
Up next for the Rangers: Robbie Ross continues his bid for the fifth starter spot, pitching for the Rangers against the Cubs at 3:05 p.m. CT on Sunday in Las Vegas. Ross is 1-0 with a 3.86 ERA in four spring outings. Closer Joe Nathan will be among those who pitch against the Mariners in Peoria in the other half of the split-squad doubleheader. Justin Grimm is also scheduled to pitch in a game that starts at 3:05 p.m. CT.
Tyler Emerick is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.Less