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June 29, 2012

Wrapping up Rangers 4-2 victory over A's (Matt Harrison wins 11th game; Tanner Scheppers earns first career save)

Matt Harrison was in line for his fourth loss of the season all game even though he pitched well.

When he walked off the mound after throwing a scoreless top of the eighth, the Texas Rangers were down 2-0 against the Oakland Athletics.

But the offense came through in the bottom half with a four-run rally to put Harrison in line for his 11th victory.

With two outs, Nelson Cruz drew a bases-loaded walk to score a run and then Craig Gentry had a bases-clearing triple. Gentry thought the ball would be caught by A's leftfielder Yoenis Cespedes initially, but Cespedes misplayed the ball and the Rangers took advantage.

Tanner Scheppers closed it out in the ninth for his first career save. He allowed a two-out solo home run, but retired the next batter.

Here are a few postgame notes: 

* The Rangers have won 15 of their last 18, and improve to a season-high 20 games over .500 (49-29). The victory guaranteed at least a split of the four-game series, as the Rangers have not lost a series since June 4-7 against Oakland.

* Matt Harrison has gone 7-0 with a 1.42 ERA over his last eight starts. The 11 victories are tied for most in the American League, joining the Rays' David Price. Harrison's seven-game winning streak ties his career-long, and is the second longest by a left-hander in franchise history. Kenny Rogers had a nine-game winning streak in 2005, and an eight-game in 2004.

* The three-run triple in the eighth by Craig Gentry was his second game-winning hit of the season and of his career. Gentry had an RBI single in the eighth to break a 0-0 tie on June 13 against Arizona. 

* Tanner Scheppers said his blood was pumping when he came in for the ninth. He tried to stay calm and in the moment. "It was just a really cool experience to go out and do it," Scheppers said. "It's something I wanted to do my entire life, and to go out there was a real blessing." Scheppers got a congratulatory message from closer Joe Nathan afterwards, as well.

-- Drew Davison

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