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Rookie Harris finally arrives


Jeff Harris won for the first time in the major leagues, throwing seven innings and allowing one unearned run Thursday. 
 (Associated Press / The Spokesman-Review)
Jeff Harris won for the first time in the major leagues, throwing seven innings and allowing one unearned run Thursday. (Associated Press / The Spokesman-Review)
Associated Press

Jeff Harris pitched in minor and independent leagues from China to Mexico to Canada. He spent off-seasons doing construction jobs, just biding time until it was baseball season again.

Eleven years after being drafted, the 31-year-old Seattle Mariners right-hander finally has his first major league victory.

Harris, recalled from Triple-A Tacoma to make his second career start, limited the Texas Rangers to four singles and an unearned run over seven innings in the Mariners’ 8-2 victory on Thursday.

“This is the only thing I’ve ever wanted to do,” Harris said. “I was just going to ride it out as long as I could. I always told myself I had the rest of my life to get a real job.”

Ichiro Suzuki hit a grand slam in a five-run ninth inning, and Raul Ibanez also homered for the Mariners.

Seattle managed just three hits and three runs over the first seven innings against Joaquin Benoit (3-4), who retired 18 batters in a row at one point. He still lost his third straight start.

Harris was drafted by Minnesota in 1995, and stayed in the Twins organization until he was released after the 2000 season. After two years in an independent league in Chico, Calif., and failing to make a team in Taiwan, Harris played in leagues in China and Mexico before going to Quebec, where he was last summer when signed by the Mariners organization.

“It was definitely worth every bit of it,” Harris said. “I wouldn’t change what it took to get here for anything. … To get that first win is just a really special feeling.”

Harris went seven innings and threw 94 pitches on a day when the temperature was 95 degrees at game time. He benefited from four double plays.

Harris had pitched in three games for Seattle in his first major league stint earlier this month, allowing three runs and five hits over 5 2/3 innings in his only previous start, a 3-1 loss to the Chicago White Sox on Aug. 7. He then went back to Tacoma, but is back in the rotation spot of Gil Meche, who went on the disabled list last weekend (right knee tendinitis).

“He threw strikes and when he got in trouble, he got groundballs. That’s how to pitch,” manager Mike Hargrove said. “A performance like that from your starter, it goes a long way. … I think Jeff might get another start.”

The Rangers, who before this series had a 1-12 trip that was the worst in team history, had 14 runs and 11 extra-base hits the first two games against the Mariners. Texas leads the majors with 206 home runs.

Notes

Texas had a season-high four errors, two by All-Star shortstop Michael Young, who has six errors in the last 13 games. … Seattle optioned right-hander Clint Nageotte to Tacoma to make room on the roster for Harris. … Rangers cleanup hitter Hank Blalock had an RBI single in the ninth, his second straight game with an RBI.

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