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Harrison struggles as Rangers fall to Rays 8-4

Associated Press Published: April 28, 2012

ARLINGTON, Texas (AP) — Matt Harrison's struggles were too much for the Texas Rangers to overcome.

Evan Longoria hit a three-homer to key a four-run first inning as the Tampa Bay Rays roughed up Harrison from the start to extend their win streak to six games with an 8-4 victory over the Rangers on Friday night.

Harrison (3-1) allowed seven runs and a career-high 14 hits in five innings. The left-hander had allowed a combined four runs in winning his first three starts of the season.

"I thought it was balls (Harrison) left up," Texas manager Ron Washington said. "They were in attack mode and they didn't miss them."

This was the first meeting of the season between the two playoff rivals. The Rangers beat the Rays the past two seasons in the AL division series on their way to consecutive World Series appearances.

Harrison was the winning pitcher in the series-clinching Game 4 of the ALDS last season.

It was a far different story Friday night.

The first six batters of the game reached base against Harrison and Tampa Bay finished with a season-high 16 hits in support of James Shields (4-0).

"That's the way it goes," Harrison said. "Tonight, they just had my number."

Josh Hamilton hit his league-leading ninth home run and Elvis Andrus added three hits for the Rangers.

Andrus lined out to center with the bases loaded to end the eighth against reliever Wade Davis. The Texas shortstop just missed hitting a grand slam on the previous pitch when his shot down the line in right landed just a few feet foul.

"It was a little bad luck right there," Andrus said. "I thought it was fair the whole way."

Shields became the first starter in the AL to win four games this season. The Tampa Bay ace, who struck out eight, allowed four runs and 11 hits in six innings.

Longoria had four RBIs, Luke Scott homered, and B.J. Upton and Jeff Keppinger each had three hits for the Rays.

This is Tampa Bay's longest winning streak since a seven-game run July 24-30, 2010.

"We've been on a nice little streak," Shields said. "We wanted to get this series started off right."

Desmond Jennings singled and Carlos Pena reached on Ian Kinsler's fielding error at second.

Longoria drove a 3-2 change-up just over the wall in the center. It was his fourth home run of the season.

Ben Zobrist walked, and Keppinger and Upton followed with singles. Upton's hit scored Zobrist and gave the Rays a 4-0 lead.

"The home run was big," Tampa Bay manager Joe Maddon said. "(Longoria) had a pretty good night."

After Hamilton's RBI grounder in the first, Tampa Bay picked up a run in the third on Chris Gimenez's RBI single.

Longoria had an RBI single and scored on Zobrist's double in the fourth, extending Tampa Bay's lead to 7-1.

Harrison had his ERA jump from 1.66, which led the AL coming into the game, to 3.38.

"They found holes," Washington said. "But they also squared up a lot of balls."

Hamilton hit a two-run blast in the fifth and David Murphy chipped in with a solo shot in the sixth off Shields.

The Rangers had runners on first and third with two outs in the sixth, but Shields induced a weak grounder to the mound from Andrus to end the threat.

Notes: Jennings extended his hitting streak to nine games. ... Andrus is now 10 for 16 lifetime against Shields. ... Harrison had his seven-game winning streak dating to Sept. 4 come to an end. ... Shields improved to 6-2 lifetime against the Rangers.


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