ARLINGTON – Matt Harrison had his worst start in almost four months, the offense tried but couldn’t climb out of an early six-run deficit and the Tampa Bay Rays avoided a sweep by beating the Texas Rangers, 8-4, on Wednesday night at Rangers Ballpark.
The Rangers lost for only the second time in their last eight games, and their lead in the American League West dropped to 4 ½ games over Oakland, which defeated Cleveland.
The Rays jumped on Harrison early. They scored three runs in the first, highlighted by a two-run homer by Evan Longoria, and three more in the second on a three-run blast by B.J. Upton.
Trailing 6-0, the Rangers chipped away.
Texas scored two runs in the second on a homer by Mitch Moreland, and another run in the third on an RBI groundout by Nelson Cruz. The Rangers pulled to within 6-4 with a solo home run by Josh Hamilton in the fifth.
That, however, was as close as they’d get.
The Rays took a 7-4 lead in the sixth when Elliot Johnson led off with a solo homer off Harrison.
The three homers were the most allowed by Harrison this season. He went 5 1/3 innings, allowing seven runs on 12 hits with one walk and five strikeouts. It was his shortest outing since 4 2/3 innings at Boston on Aug. 8, but Harrison was battling a stomach virus that start.
Longoria went deep again in the ninth off Rangers reliever Alexi Ogando, putting the Rays up 8-4.
-- Drew Davison