Notes: David Murphy earning more time

OAKLAND, Calif. -- Rangers manager Ron Washington can't help but write David Murphy's name on his lineup card these days.

"I can't rightfully pull him out of the lineup right now," Washington said. "It's not just the home runs. He's playing good baseball. We need offense and he's helping with that."

Murphy hit two big homers in Seattle, including a three-run shot that gave Texas the lead in Wednesday's game and a two-run shot off Felix Hernandez in Thursday's game that put the Rangers up 2-0 in the seventh.

Murphy handles the No. 6 spot when Jorge Cantu isn't in the game. And he gives the offense some punch, meaning Julio Borbon isn't playing as often. Washington said he will get Borbon in games when he can and has talked to his young center fielder about his playing time.

"He understands that I have to ride the hot hand," Washington said. "He's going to get in there in this series, but we'll have to wait and see when. He wants to win as badly as everyone out there. It's about winning ballgames. We'll get him out there."

Murphy said Thursday that he's ready to play every day and do whatever he can to help the team. He's embraced the role of a fourth outfielder and it seems that each season in Texas he's hit a hot streak and has earned more playing time because of it. He's 3-for-8 with two homers and five RBIs in the last two games. He also made a productive out on Thursday, grounding to the right side to move up a runner from second. Murphy is hitting .300 (6-for-20) so far on the road trip.

Other notes:

* Closer Neftali Feliz didn't waste any time getting through the ninth inning in Thursday's game despite the Rangers leading 6-0. Washington said the club has sent Feliz a clear message that every time he goes out, he needs to be focused and getting hitters out as quickly as possible.

"That's a winning situation," Washington said. "He's reminded of that in the bullpen warming up and before he leaves the bullpen and then when he gets to the mound."

Those messages started in earnest after Feliz blew a 6-2 lead against Baltimore before the All-Star break, allowing a grand slam home run. Feliz is 6-for-6 in save chances since the All-Star break and has a 2.08 ERA, giving up two runs in 8 2/3 innings with eight strikeouts and no walks.

* Matt Harrison found himself in an unfamiliar spot in Thursday's win over Seattle. With the Rangers up 3-0 in the seventh, the lefty came in with two on and one out to face consecutive left-handed hitters Casey Kotchman and Russell Branyan.

That's normally a spot reserved for Darren Oliver. But Oliver pitched 2 1/3 innings the previous game and was unavailable. That put Harrison, the second lefty in the pen, on the mound at a critical juncture.

"I thought maybe O'Day or Ogando would be in there, but it was two lefties," Harrison said. "It was definitely a confidence boost for me to go in there and get those outs. If I give up a home run or some hits, it's a tie game."

Harrison got Kotchman to line out and Branyan to ground out.

"He's starting to make it happen instead of trying to figure out how to pitch," Washington said. "He's beginning to fit into his role down there. Last night, he proved how important that second lefty is."

* Cliff Lee will pitch Wednesday against the Yankees, staying on his five-day schedule despite the off days.