Bats, bullpen back Harrison en route to 16th win
Ogando sharp in return as Texas holds off late Cleveland comeback
By T.R. Sullivan / MLB.com | 9/12/2012 12:34 AM ET
CLE@TEX: Beltre's homer is confirmed by replay
ARLINGTON -- Rangers starter Matt Harrison had his game back together and so did reliever Alexi Ogando. The Rangers have been concerned about both lately and will need both going down the stretch.
Harrison, benefiting from a couple days of extra rest, held the Indians to two runs in 5 2/3 innings and Ogando retired all four batters he faced in relief as the Rangers held on for a 6-4 victory on Tuesday at the Ballpark in Arlington.
Harrison would have preferred to have gone longer, but this was enough to snap his two-game losing streak. He is now 16-9 with a 3.36 ERA.
"It was definitely a lot better than the last few times out," Harrison said. "The extra rest did help. I was able to get my legs back under me. It was a positive note and hopefully I can build on this."
Ogando took over for Harrison with two out in the sixth, making his first appearance since last Wednesday in Kansas City. He has been dealing with some tightness in his right biceps muscle, but he was back to throwing 98 mph with a fastball while mixing in an effective slider on Tuesday. He got Texas through the seventh with a four-run lead.
"That was really important because we need him," Rangers manager Ron Washington said. "He used his slider well and when he got ready to throw his fastball, it was there. It was nice to see him back out there and we need to keep him out there."
The Rangers, with their 17th win in the last 25 games, walked off the field with their division-clinching magic number at 19 while awaiting the outcome of the Angels-Athletics game in Anaheim.
The Indians have lost 21 of 26 and didn't help their cause by allowing three unearned runs in a four-run second inning.
"It wasn't the prettiest win, but we'll take it," said Adrian Beltre, who led off the inning with a routine ground ball and reached on first baseman Russ Canzler's error. "We came away with a win, that's the important thing, because we need to win every game."
The Rangers led, 4-0, after two innings, but this wasn't settled until rookie reliever Tanner Scheppers struck out pinch-hitter Michael Brantley with two on and two out in the eighth and Joe Nathan set down the side in order in the ninth for his 32nd save.
"Those guys have got a very good ballclub," Indians manager Manny Acta said. "You can't afford to be giving them extra outs. Unfortunately, we did that in that second inning and it ended up costing us four runs."
Harrison started the night by retiring the first nine hitters faced. He walked two in the fourth, but a double play helped keep the Indians from scoring and he took a no-hitter into the fifth. This time he ran into trouble when he walked Brent Lillibridge and Jason Donald followed with a single to center.
Thomas Neal forced Donald with a grounder to first, leaving runners at the corners, and Ezequiel Carrera singled to center to drive home the Indians first run. Harrison struck out Shin-Soo Choo to end the inning.
Beltre got the run back when he hit his 31st home run of the season, a hit originally ruled a double before being reversed by replay. But Harrison's night ended when he allowed a two-out single to Canzler and a run-scoring double to Matt LaPorta in the sixth, cutting the Rangers' lead to 5-2.
"The first three innings, he was sharp as he possibly could be," Washington said. "In the fourth, fifth and sixth innings, he started getting the ball up. He wasn't as crisp. I wasn't taking any chances."
That's when Ogando took over and retired Lillibridge on a grounder back to the mound to end the inning. That and Scheppers striking out Brantley in the eighth were two of the biggest outs of the game.
"I felt good," Ogando said. "My arm was good and I think it was healthy, absolutely. I was very focused on the job I had to do out there on the mound. I've been working hard every day and when you do good, you feel better."
Texas again responded with a run in the bottom of the inning when Leonys Martin doubled with one out and scored on a two-out single by Elvis Andrus. The Rangers needed everything they could get because the Indians scored two in the top of the eighth against relievers Mike Adams and Koji Uehara before Scheppers struck out Brantley.
"It was good to get an early lead and get those tack-on runs," outfielder David Murphy said. "Sometimes we'll score early and shut it down the rest of the night. They're a scrappy team and they have nothing to lose. They're playing hard out there."