ARLINGTON, Texas – Seattle Mariners right-hander Blake Beavan has a good time pitching games in Texas.
This trip home won’t rank among his favorites, even though he didn’t pitch poorly.
After the start of Sunday’s game was delayed more than two hours by rain, Beavan worked seven innings in a 2-1 loss to the A.L. West-leading Texas Rangers, the team that drafted him in the first round five years ago out of nearby Irving High School.
“It’s fun every time I come back here to pitch. Immediate family of course, my wife and aunts and uncles and who knows how many other people were here that I didn’t know of,” Beavan said. “Today was a tough day all around, given the push back of the game, the weather conditions, slippery and wet out there. I think it was hard for both sides.”
Matt Harrison (17-9) came within one out of pitching a complete game for Texas, and won his ninth consecutive starts against Seattle since May 2010.
The Rangers (87-59), who have the American League’s best record, added to their division lead over Oakland for the first time in 10 days.
Harrison scattered six hits and struck out five, and his only walk was to Franklin Gutierrez with one out in the ninth. After Kyle Seager’s infield popout for the second out, Jesus Montero singled to right and manager Ron Washington made the pitching change after 119 pitches.
Koji Uehara struck out Michael Saunders to end the game, getting his first save since being traded from Baltimore to Texas in July 2011.
“He did a good job coming in at both left-handers and right-handers,” Mariners manager Eric Wedge said of Harrison. “He’s got a quick tempo and helped himself, he’s great defensively out there, a couple of big double plays.”
After allowing a single to start the game, Harrison didn’t let a runner past first base until Justin Smoak led off the eighth with his 16th homer. Harrison benefited from three double plays — two that he started.
Smoak, still hitting only .199, homered in his second consecutive game against his former team.
“I felt like I had good at-bats,” Smoak said. “That’s all you can ask for, having good at-bats, squaring balls up.”
Two years ago, the Rangers traded Smoak and Beavan to Seattle in the trade for Cliff Lee.
Beavan (9-10), pitching for the first time since Sept. 4, allowed two runs and seven hits over seven innings. He struck out two and walked one.
Adrian Beltre hit his 33rd homer and Mitch Moreland had an RBI double to back Harrison, the All-Star lefty pitching on his 27th birthday.
Texas now has a three-game division lead over Oakland. The A’s lost for only the second time in 10 games Sunday, 9-5 at home against Baltimore.
The Rangers had a 5 1/2-game lead on Sept. 6 after winning at Kansas City, gaining a half-game that day on the idle A’s. Before Sunday’s games, that lead had shrunk to two games – the Rangers’ smallest since April 13, a week into the season.
“They’re playing unbelievable,” Harrison said. “We’ve just got to keep winning series.”
Texas has won eight of its last nine series, and hasn’t lost consecutive games in more than a month.
Beltre homered for the eighth time in 15 games. The 33 homers are one more than he hit last season.