Harrison overmatched by Royals ace

Harrison overmatched by Royals ace

ARLINGTON -- Rangers manager Ron Washington said before the season that he wanted to set up his rotation so that Matt Harrison, his No. 5 starter, wouldn't be matched up against the opponent's ace.

So far he is 0-for-2 in that regard, and so are the Rangers.

Harrison went against the Royals' No. 1 starter, Gil Meche, on Friday night, and it turned out to be a mismatch. Meche shut down the Rangers in a place that has been a cauldron of trouble for him, pitching the Royals to a 12-3 victory at Rangers Ballpark in Arlington.

Harrison, who faced Tigers ace Justin Verlander in his first start, allowed six runs in five innings and the Rangers lost for the sixth time in seven games. This was only the second of those six losses in which the Rangers never led at any point in the game.

They were down 9-0 in the seventh when Washington conceded by pulling third baseman Michael Young and center fielder Josh Hamilton from the game.

Young was pulled in a curious situation -- the bases were loaded. That's when Omar Vizquel batted for Young and popped out to end the inning.

"In a 9-0 game, we just decided to get Young and Hamilton off their feet," Washington said. "I had already told Vizquel he was going into the game and wanted to give him that at-bat."

It's not the first time Young has been pinch-hit for in his career but ...

"I think in that situation Wash wanted to get Omar in there," Young said. "A nine-run lead. My call is to go in there and play as hard as I can until I'm told otherwise. That's it. I'll come here and play tomorrow.

"[Dugout coach Jackie Moore] told me Omar was going to third. Before the inning, he told me Omar was going to third. In the hole, he told me Omar was going to hit. That's Wash's call. I'm not going to question it at all. That's Wash's call. I'm fine."

The Rangers were simply fighting an uphill battle from the beginning. Harrison gave up four runs in the second inning and that more than enough for Meche, who won for the first time against the Rangers since April 28, 2005. He was 0-4 with a 6.23 ERA in his last six starts against the Rangers.

Meche, who also had a career 8.10 ERA at the Ballpark coming into the game, went six-plus scoreless innings. He allowed six singles, walked two and struck out six against a team that scored 19 runs on Wednesday.

"We played well the other night, had a day off and just couldn't get anything going early," first baseman Chris Davis said. "That made it tough on our pitcher. We have to do a better job of getting our offensive more consistent."

The Rangers were 1-for-10 with runners in scoring position.

"We have to step it up and do what we do best and that's swing the bats ... me included," said catcher Jarrod Saltalamacchia, who struck out three times before hitting a ninth-inning home run.

Harrison gave up four runs in the second on a pair of home runs, a leadoff shot by Mark Teahen and a three-run blast by Coco Crisp. Harrison still made it into the sixth but left after a leadoff walk to John Buck and a single to Alberto Callaspo.

Overall, he faced 26 batters and 12 reached base on eight hits and four walks. A two-run single by Mike Aviles later in the inning off reliever Willie Eyre left Harrison charged with the six runs and he now has an 8.44 ERA after two starts.

"I was falling behind too much and showing my offspeed stuff too early," Harrison said. "I should have attacked more with my fastball early. I threw some good offspeed stuff later, but they had already seen it. But, overall, I was falling behind too much. I need to attack more than I have been."

Royals opened up a nine-run lead with three more off Eyre and Josh Rupe in the seventh. Mike Jacobs hit a three-run home run off Rupe in the eighth.

The Rangers didn't break the shutout until Hank Blalock and Marlon Byrd hit back-to-back home runs with one out in the eighth off of reliever Doug Waechter. The Rangers have now hit a home run in 10 straight games and have hit multiple home runs in seven straight home games.

Ian Kinsler, after leading off the first inning with a walk, had a bunt single in the third to give him eight hits in eight straight at-bats. That goes back to a 10th-inning single on Wednesday night but Kinsler's streak snapped with a flyout to center in the fifth. The club record is 10 straight, set by Frank Catalanotto in 2000.

T.R. Sullivan is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.