No matter what game plan Texas' Matt Harrison takes into his starts against Seattle, or the adjustments he decides to make, they all work when facing the Mariners.
Harrison tossed a five-hitter for his 12th victory, Adrian Beltre had three hits and two RBIs, and the Texas Rangers beat the Seattle Mariners 4-0 on Sunday afternoon.
Harrison's 12th win kept him even with Tampa Bay's David Price for the most in the American League and continued his streak against the Mariners. Harrison (12-4) has won eight straight starts against Seattle and is 5-0 all-time at Safeco Field. The eight straight wins over one team is the third longest streak in Rangers' history. Charlie Hough won 13 straight against Cleveland and nine straight against Minnesota.
"I don't know what it is really," Harrison said. "I pitch against them a lot against the season. I'm really familiar with what I want to do against those guys. ... You still have to go out and execute your pitches and it seems like I've been able to do it more against this team than any other."
It was the fourth complete-game shutout for Harrison and second this season, also tossing a five-hitter against San Francisco last month. And he did it mostly without the strikeout. Harrison fanned three, tied for his season-low.
Harrison wasn't sharp early, perhaps a hangover from his rough outing in the All-Star Game when he gave up three runs on four hits. But when Harrison made a mistake, they usually came with two outs and his defense was able to help him from giving Seattle any big innings.
Harrison found a rhythm in the later innings and set down the final seven batters he faced.
"He went out there in the seventh, eighth and ninth and did what you're supposed to do as a very good pitcher when your team has the lead," Rangers manager Ron Washington said. "If you want to be in the game late, go and get those outs in the seventh, eighth and ninth. (Harrison) wants to have the ball and we had discussions a couple of months ago. If you want to finish ballgames, get outs in the seventh, eighth and ninth."
Harrison threw 114 pitches, and allowed just four singles and Brendan Ryan's two-out double in the fifth inning.
Ian Kinsler added his 10th homer of the season on the first pitch of the fifth inning off Seattle starter Hisashi Iwakuma (1-2), who struggled through five innings. But it was Beltre an inning earlier that gave Harrison cushion to work with as the Rangers took two of three from the Mariners to begin the second half of the season.
Craig Gentry opened the fourth inning with a single and Elvis Andrus doubled to right with one-out. Instead of taking their chances, the Mariners intentionally walked Josh Hamilton to load the bases. Beltre followed by bouncing a single through the left side of the infield to score Gentry and Andrus and the second of his three singles.
"It doesn't make me mad. It fires me up because I want that challenge," Beltre said. "I don't blame other teams for doing it, but I welcome the challenge. And I like it."
Beltre was robbed of a fourth hit when Chone Figgins jumped and pulled down his line drive in the eighth. Hamilton added an RBI groundout in the first inning, his Major League-leading 76th of the season.
Seattle was shut out for the 11th time this season -- tied for most in the league with Oakland -- with the only offensive highlight being rookie Jesus Montero snapping a 0-for-23 skid with a single in the first inning. Seattle got base runners on Harrison but could never get a clutch two-out hit. The Mariners most promising threat came in the seventh after a one-out single by Michael Saunders and walk to Figgins. But Harrison got Ryan to ground into a double play -- with a nice pick by Michael Young at first base -- to end the threat.
"Once he got through the lineup a couple of times you saw him work that change-up and start getting guys off balance," Ryan said. "It shows how good his stuff is because he can go to his third pitch and it's still pretty effective."