The Texas Rangers hope a little extra rest will get Matt Harrison back on track. The left-hander takes the hill for the first time in a week on Tuesday night in the opener of a three-game set against the Cleveland Indians.
Harrison has allowed 10 earned runs, 20 hits and four homers over 10 innings of back-to-back losses to the Tampa Bay Rays and Kansas City Royals. Those rough outings come after he tossed eight scoreless innings of two-hit ball to beat the Minnesota Twins on Aug. 24 and set a new career high for victories in a season.
The 6-foot-4 hurler was touched for five runs -- three earned -- over 4 2/3 innings on Tuesday versus the Royals as he fell to 15-9 with a 3.37 earned run average in 27 starts this season.
"I felt good coming into today," Harrison said. "But I had a high pitch count early, 80 pitches through four, and not a lot of good things happen when you throw that many pitches through four innings."
Set to turn 27 on Sunday, Harrison is 1-2 with a 5.17 ERA in three career starts with the Indians and was originally set to go on Sunday versus the Tampa Bay Rays before having his outing pushed back.
Texas instead opted to give Roy Oswalt the spot start in Sunday's rubber match with the Rays and the move backfired as the veteran yielded four runs over just two innings of a 6-0 setback before exiting with soreness in his right elbow.
The offense failed to pick up its starter, managing just two hits off of Tampa Bay starter James Shields.
"He was really good today. He had a tremendous change-up and he certainly didn't waste a whole lot of pitches," Rangers manager Ron Washington said about Shields. "We just couldn't find the fat of the bat."
Texas, which had won its last six series, now owns just a three-game lead over the Oakland Athletics for first place in the AL West.
The Rangers hope to pad that lead in this series versus the Indians, who have lost four of their last five and dropped Monday's finale of a four-game set with the Minnesota Twins by a 7-2 margin.
"It's disappointing to win the first game of the series, then not be able to even get a split," Indians manager Manny Acta said. "We didn't hit or pitch well at all over the last three games."
Cleveland did not pick up its first hit until the sixth inning and got a sacrifice fly from Carlos Santana in the frame. Lonnie Chisenhall, playing in his first game since suffering a broken right forearm on June 29, added a solo homer in the seventh, while Justin Masterson took the loss for yielding six runs over 6 2/3 innings.
Acta gives the ball tonight to right-hander Ubaldo Jimenez, who is 0-4 in his last five starts and has gone beyond the sixth inning just once in that span.
That did come in his most recent outing on Wednesday at the Detroit Tigers as Jimenez gave up four runs on six hits and a walk in 7 1/3 innings of a 7-1 defeat.
Despite his longest outing since July 2, the 28-year-old hasn't won since Aug. 9.
"The only thing I can do is go out there and give the best I can as long as I can," Jimenez said. "Definitely I wanted to win the game for the team and for me."
Jimenez is 1-1 with a 4.58 ERA in three career starts versus the Rangers and that includes a loss on Aug. 31 when he gave up four runs over 5 2/3 innings.
The Rangers have split six meetings this year with the Indians -- all in Cleveland -- after winning nine of the 10 encounters last season.
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