Matt Harrison makes two-run first stand up

SAN DIEGO -- The Texas Rangers struck out a season-high 12 times, and they finished with fewer hits than the offensively-challenged San Diego Padres.

And the Rangers scored only in the first inning.

Still, the Rangers beat the Padres 2-1 on Monday night for their fourth consecutive victory, thanks to left-hander Matt Harrison’s six-inning gem and David Murphy’s two-run single in the first inning.

The Rangers (41-27) increased their lead over the Angels in the American League West to five games.

Harrison (9-3) threw five shutout innings after allowing a run on three consecutive hits to start the first inning. After two singles, the Padres’ Chase Headley drove in a run on a double.

“Fortunately, I was able to make some pitches to get out of that and keep the score 2-1,” Harrison said. “By the third and fourth, I was started to find a rhythm, find my release point a little better, started to command the fastball a little better and made my pitches.

"My defense was outstanding. They kept making plays to get me out of situations.”

After the teams scored all their runs in the first inning, the game turned into a pitchers' duel. Padres starter Jason Marquis (1-2) struck out 10 in seven innings, his highest strikeout total since 2001.

“He competes. He’s a veteran pitcher. He’s been around awhile. He knows what he’s doing out there,” Michael Young said. “He did a good job.”

Two of the Rangers’ five hits came in the first inning. Murphy singled in two runs after the Rangers loaded the bases with a single and two walks against Marquis.

“I thought after the first inning we were going to have a chance to do something with him, but he settled down and made his pitches, and he swung the bat and he ran the bases,” Rangers manager Ron Washington said. “He really settled in. I didn’t think he would be around for the seventh inning, but he was. I tip my hat to him.”

Mark Lowe, Mike Adams and Joe Nathan each threw a scoreless inning to close out the victory. Nathan earned his 14th save.