Rangers cap sweep of Athletics
The only thing stopping the Texas Rangers now is the All-Star break.
Matt Harrison pitched six-hit ball into the eighth inning, Adrian Beltre homered in his third consecutive game and the Rangers extended their winning streak to a season-best seven games with a 2-0 victory over the Oakland Athletics on Sunday.
”We finally got the type of baseball moving in the direction we’re capable of playing,” Rangers manager Ron Washington said. ”Now we know what we have to do and how we have to do it, just have to go out there and get a little break and continue to play good baseball. The biggest compliment I can give to them is that I love watching them play.”
Harrison (7-7) struck out seven and walked one in 7 2/3 innings to prevail in a pitchers’ duel over Trevor Cahill.
Neftali Feliz completed the shutout by working a perfect ninth for his 18th save in 22 chances.
”I was able to keep them off balance, moving the ball in and out,” Harrison said. ”I gave us a chance to win today. I knew it was going to be tough pitching against Cahill. He’s a great pitcher and he made one mistake today and that’s all we needed to win the ballgame.”
After Josh Hamilton drew a two-out walk in the sixth, Beltre lifted a 1-0 pitch from Cahill (8-7) into the seats in left-center for Beltre’s 19th of the season.
AL West-leading Texas opened the season with six consecutive wins, then topped that streak with a four-game sweep of Oakland.
The Rangers have won seven consecutive games heading into the break for the first time in franchise history.
A game played in 98-degree heat wrapped up an emotional weekend for both teams following the death Thursday of a fan who reached for a ball tossed into the stands by Hamilton. Brownwood firefighter Shannon Stone tumbled over a rail, falling about 20 feet to the concrete below. He died less than an hour later.
Cahill nearly matched Harrison before faltering in the sixth. Cahill gave up two runs and five hits in 7 2/3 innings with three strikeouts and two walks.
”(Harrison’s) stuff was electric,” Cahill said. ”It’s always challenging when the other guy’s throwing the ball well. It makes it a little more competitive.”
Cahill left a fastball up and over the plate, and Beltre made him pay. That was all the Rangers needed against an Oakland offense that continues to scuffle.
”I was trying to get my pitch to hit, try not to miss my pitch,” Beltre said. ”I was trying to hit the ball hard somewhere.”
Cahill entered the game with an 8-2 record and 2.18 ERA in 11 career starts against Texas.
Oakland was shut out for the 11th time this season and is 5-13 in its past 18 games after a six-game winning streak.
The A’s fell to 16-32 on the road and a season-worst 14 games under .500 (39-53).
”We have confidence in each other,” Oakland left fielder Josh Willingham said. ”We know we can play better than this.”
The Rangers have outscored opponents 53-22 during the seven straight victories that moved them a season-high 10 games over .500 (51-41) following an 8-2 homestand.
”It means a lot because we’re trying to win every game that we can,” Beltre said. ”The last 10 or 12 games we’ve been been playing really good. Hopefully we can keep the same momentum in the second half and try to separate ourselves from the competition.”
NOTES: A’s 1B Conor Jackson sat out the game after sustaining bruised ribs in a collision at first base with Texas’ Elvis Andrus in the ninth inning of Saturday night’s game. Jackson said the ribs weren’t broken, but he had trouble raising his arms and wasn’t even available to pinch hit. … Washington set his rotation for after the All-Star break: LHP Derek Holland, RHP Colby Lewis, LHP C.J. Wilson, Harrison and RHP Alexi Ogando. RHP Scott Feldman, on the DL while recovering from offseason right knee surgery, will be activated after the break. Feldman, a 17-game winner in 2009, was a candidate to join the rotation, but Washington’s immediate plan is for Feldman to work out of the bullpen. … A’s manager Bob Melvin announced his postbreak rotation: RHP Brandon McCarthy, RHP Rich Harden, Cahill and LHP Gio Gonzalez. … A’s C Kurt Suzuki was struck in the left ankle by a foul ball off the bat of Texas’ Mitch Moreland in the seventh, but Suzuki remained in the game after he was on his back in pain for a few minutes.