MINNEAPOLIS (AP) - The Minnesota Twins thought they had their offense figured out after scoring 16 runs in their previous two games against the Los Angeles Angels.
Texas Rangers lefty Matt Harrison showed them how fleeting an offensive surge can be.
Harrison breezed through eight innings and Ian Kinsler homered to lead the Rangers to a 4-1 victory over the Twins on Friday night.
Harrison (2-0) allowed one run on seven hits with four strikeouts and Elvis Andrus had three hits for the Rangers.
``His ball was diving all over the place,' Twins manager Ron Gardenhire said.
Anthony Swarzak (0-2) gave up four runs on nine hits with three strikeouts in seven innings for the Twins. Danny Valencia had a sacrifice fly in the second inning, but that was all they could muster against Harrison.
The Twins stranded nine runners on base, including two in the ninth inning. They have now scored just seven runs total in their five losses this season.
``He had good stuff, but I felt like we hit some balls pretty hard, though,' Valencia said. ``He pitched well, but I felt like we could've swung the bats a little bit better. He did do a good job, kept them in the game that's for sure.'
Harrison threw six shutout innings in his first outing of the season and had little trouble against a Twins offense that has scored more than two runs just twice in the first seven games. He was in a little jam in the fifth when the Twins had runners on the corners and two outs, but the big lefty struck out Joe Mauer to end the inning. He also got Mauer to ground into a double play after Jamey Carroll led off the eighth with a single.
``He was pounding the zone,' Andrus said of Harrison, the 26-year-old lefty who started Game 7 of the World Series last year. ``He's been doing that since last year. When he's good, he's pounding the zone with first pitch strikes. He's got good stuff and every time he gets ahead, he's really tough.'
It marked the first game back in Minnesota for Joe Nathan since he signed a two-year deal with the Rangers in November. Nathan left after seven seasons with the Twins and his 260 saves for them is a franchise record. But after throwing five times in six days, including a warmup, before having Thursday off, Rangers manager Ron Washington wanted to give him one more day.
Nathan is 0-2 with two saves in his first four appearances, including a blown save in his last outing against Seattle on Wednesday.
``He had a big workload the last time out there and we gave him down (time) yesterday and we decided we'll give him one more,' Washington said. ``He'll be back in there tomorrow.'
Alexi Ogando pitched a tense ninth inning for the save. He hit Josh Willingham to start the inning, then gave up a single to Ryan Doumit to make things interesting.
But Ogando got Valencia to ground into a fielder's choice, Chris Parmelee to strike out swinging and Sean Burroughs popped out to end the game.
Valencia, for one, was hoping to see his former teammate on the mound.
``I was kind of hoping for him,' Valencia said. ``After playing with him we kind of know what he's got. But he's a good guy, was a great teammate. He's a great pitcher so it would have been a good challenge.'
There's always tomorrow.
NOTES: Japanese sensation Yu Darvish (1-0, 7.94 ERA) takes the mound for the Rangers on Saturday in his second start. The eight-time Japanese All-Star gave up five runs on eight hits in 5 2-3 innings of his debut, but the Rangers put 11 on the board to make him a winner. RHP Nick Blackburn (0-1, 7.50) will pitch for the Twins. ... Twins RHP Jason Marquis started the season on the DL while tending to his daughter, who was injured in a car accident last month, and is scheduled to rejoin the team Monday. Manager Ron Gardenhire said Marquis is tentatively scheduled to pitch on Wednesday against the New York Yankees. ... Young's single in the sixth gave him 3,074 total bases in his career, breaking Juan Gonzalez's franchise record.
The Associated Press News Service
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