Starting pitcher Matt Harrison #54 of the Texas Rangers pitches in the third inning against the Seattle Mariners at Safeco Field on April 27, 2014 in Seattle, Washington. (Photo by Otto Greule Jr/Getty Images)
Matt Harrison's return to the mound after more than a year started perfectly before it was overshadowed by the Seattle Mariners' comeback win.
Harrison, activated from the disabled list before the game and pitching for the first time since April 6, 2013, threw six strong innings and the Texas Rangers built an early five-run lead before Seattle's Kyle Seager hit two late home runs to lead the Mariners to a 6-5 win Sunday.
Harrison was the Rangers' opening day starter last season but only pitched two games before going on the disabled list with an inflamed nerve in his lower back. He had two back surgeries in a nine-day span a year ago, and another surgery on his right side in September. He battled stiffness in his back and neck during spring training, starting the season on the disabled list.
"Glad to be back," Harrison said. "It's been a long road."
He cruised early, retiring the first nine batters he faced. In six innings he allowed two runs on three hits, struck out four and walked two.
"He looked really sharp," Texas manager Ron Washington said.
A lengthy top of the fourth -- the Rangers had eight batters and scored three runs -- seemed to affect Harrison as he came out for the bottom of the inning.
Harrison walked Michael Saunders to lead off the fourth, and Robinson Cano got the Mariners' first hit with a one-out, run-scoring double. Harrison gave up another single and a walk to load the bases with two outs before striking out Seager to end the Seattle threat.
"I just couldn't seem to get it going in the beginning of the inning," Harrison said. "I was able to minimize the inning, get out with one run and get back on a roll."
Harrison's only other blemish came in the sixth when Cano singled and later scored on a wild pitch from Harrison to cut the Rangers' lead to 5-2.
"He's a big-time pitcher," Seattle manager Lloyd McClendon said. "I suspect the next time we face him we'll have to battle a little tougher."
The Rangers took a 2-0 in the second inning. With runners on first and third and no outs, Mitch Moreland singled to right field. The ball got past Stefen Romero and the error allowed Alex Rios to score from first.
Texas added three more in the fourth inning. Leonys Martin drove in two runs with a single up the middle and Michael Choice had an RBI double that knocked Mariners starter Brandon Maurer from the game and gave the Rangers a 5-0 lead.
Seager turned things around. He led off the seventh inning with his first home run and then gave Seattle the lead with his two-out, three-run bomb down the right field line in the eighth off Alexi Ogando (1-2). The comeback victory also gave the Mariners their first home series win against Texas since September 2012.
Seager has five home runs in four games, a power surge that started with a two-homer game against the Astros on Wednesday. He's also had at least two hits in all four games, tying a career-best streak.
"They pecked and pecked and got the big one at the end," Washington said.
Danny Farquhar (1-0) pitched the eighth to earn the win and Fernando Rodney closed out the ninth for his fifth save.
NOTES: Texas optioned IF Luis Sardinas to Double-A Frisco before the game. There had been speculation the Rangers would place OF Shin-Soo Choo, who hasn't played since his hurting his left ankle at Oakland on Monday, on the DL to make room for Harrison. Washington said the Rangers are waiting to see if Choo will be able to play soon. ... Harrison is 10-2 with a 2.11 ERA in 19 career games against the Mariners. ... Mitch Moreland has a hit in his last 10 games in Seattle.