ARLINGTON, Texas -- The starter had his stuff and the closer brought the fire.
Matt Harrison continued his spectacular season by locking up the Minnesota Twins over 7 1/3 innings. It was mostly easy sailing for the 25-year-old righthander, but when he got into trouble in the fifth and sixth innings, he managed to limit six hits to a single run.
Harrison (9-7) retired the first eight Twins he faced without allowing a ball out of the infield, and 12 of 14 through four innings. He surrendered eight hits overall, struck out two and was lifted in the eighth after issuing his first walk to Joe Mauer with one out and the Rangers leading 2-1.
The Rangers added two insurance runs in the bottom of the eighth for a 4-1 lead and manager Ron Washington, who, along with team president Nolan Ryan, questioned closer Neftali Feliz's fire after Tuesday's stinker, went to him in the ninth. With Ryan watching from his front-row seat, Feliz struck out Jim Thome on a 98-mph heater, got Danny Valencia to pop up on another 98-mph fastball, and Delmon Young grounded a 97-mph fastball to shortstop Elvis Andrus for a 1-2-3 ending and Feliz's 21st save.
Harrison narrowly outdueled Twins starter Scott Baker (8-6), who lasted seven innings, giving up two runs on eight hits and one walk, plus four strikeouts. Baker gave up three consecutive hits to lead off the fourth and a double and single to start the fifth, but gave up just one run in each inning.
It was a critical outing for Harrison to give a team smarting after two tough losses following the 20-run explosion Monday night a boost before embarking on a six-game road trip. More than that, the Angels had won again earlier in the day and threatened to whittle the Rangers' division lead down to a single game if Texas fell for a third time in four nights.
Instead, Texas managed a split of the series, a 4-3 record on the homestand and maintains a two-game lead before a trip east through Toronto and Detroit.
* Harrison, who threw 114 pitches and lowered his ERA to 2.94, earned his team-best 15th quality start -- surpassing C.J. Wilson -- in his 20th start of the season.
* Reliever Yoshinori Tateyama relieved Harrison with two out in the eighth and battled Michael Cuddyer, a .299 hitter coming into the game, to an eight-pitch strikeout, getting him on a third consecutive low-70 mph curve. It was Tateyama's only batter.
* Harrison patiently got through the fifth and sixth innings, giving up six hits but just one run. The American League leader in double-plays got an opportune one in the sixth off the bat of Kubel with runners at first and second and no outs. Jim Thome then singled in the only run of the two innings.
* Chris Davis delivered the winning run in the fifth with an opposite-field blooper that bounced just inside the left-field line. It scored catcher Yorvit Torrealba, who led off the inning with sort of a line-drive squibber down the right-field line for a double. Davis finished 1-for-3.
* Josh Hamilton has two day games coming up in Toronto over the weekend, but he was certainly seeing the ball well Thursday night. Hamilton went 3-for-4, hitting the ball hard each time, including a triple to the gap with two out in the bottom of the eighth. It led to an intentional walk to Michael Young and Nelson Cruz's troublesome bouncer along the third-base line resulting in an off-target throw to first -- initially ruled a hit and RBI and changed to E5 -- scored Hamilton for a 3-1 lead. Mitch Moreland's second hit of the game scored Young for a 4-1 lead.
* Mitch Moreland was caught stealing second base in the second inning with one out and Torrealba at the plate. The play wasn't close, suggesting it was a blown hit-and-run. Torrealba took the pitch for a 2-0 count. He then flied out to left to end the inning.
* The Rangers opened the fourth inning hitting Baker hard with three consecutive singles, but it resulted in only one run. With Josh Hamilton at third, Michael Young at first and Moreland batting, Young attempted to steal second, but was out easily. Hamilton held at third and then Moreland grounded out to second to end what could have been a bigger inning.
* Harrison pitched out of a bases-loaded, two-out jam in the fifth inning after the Rangers provided a 1-0 lead in the fourth. Ben Revere loaded the bases with an infield hit, barely beating Harrison's throw to first. But Harrison got Tsuyoshi Nishioka to ground to second.
* After going 0-for-4, Ian Kinsler is 0-for-14 in the last three games.
* Torrealba thought he slid into first base safely to start the seventh inning after shortstop Tsuyoshi Nishioka sailed high and first baseman Michael Cuddyer failed to put the tag on Torrealba. However, Torrealba took a circuitous route just outside the base path on the dugout side of the line and first base umpire Mike Winters quickly rang him up. First base coach Gary Pettis raised his arms and manager Ron Washington came out for a brief debate.