Matt Harrison says he's OK for next start

ARLINGTON, Texas -- Texas Rangers starter Matt Harrison begrudgingly exited a shutout bid after five innings against the Colorado Rockies on Sunday night due to lower back tightness.

But after picking up 10th win, tied for the most in the American League, the left-hander said he’ll be ready for his next start.

“I saw the doc (Rangers team physician Keith Meister) and he said it was just a very mild stiffness in the lower back so he said see how it feels tomorrow,” Harrison said. “But I feel confident that I’ll be good to go.”

Rangers manager Ron Washington said he decided to remove Harrison, now 10-3 with a 3.24 ERA after the 4-2 victory, for precautionary reasons once Harrison told him and pitching coach Mike Maddux that he felt stiffness in his lower back.

Harrison said he felt discomfort at the start of the third inning and again following the fourth, after which he tried to stretch out his back. After the fifth inning, the third consecutive in which he faced just three batters thanks to a 6-4-3 double play, Harrison made it known that he was having issues with his back.

“Once he let us know that he was feeling a little stiffness we just took him out. We weren’t taking any chances,” Washington said. “Of course, Harry didn’t want to come out, but we weren’t taking any chances. He will make his next start.”

The diagnosis is excellent news for arguably the Rangers’ steadiest pitcher this season as well as for a rotation in which lefty Derek Holland (left elbow fatigue) and right-hander Neftali Feliz (right elbow inflammation) remain sidelined.

Harrison, a likely All-Star candidate, stranded five Rockies baserunners in the first two innings and used the double-play ball in the third, fourth and fifth to avoid trouble. He left having allowed five hits, all singles. He struck out three and walked two.

Harrison won for the sixth consecutive time and has been outstanding in June. He entered Sunday’s game tied with Cleveland's Justin Masterson and San Francisco's Matt Cain for the lowest ERA (1.24) in the majors behind only the New York Mets' R.A. Dickey -- before the knuckleballer's start Sunday night against the Yankees.

“I didn’t really have my best stuff working today, but I just kept telling myself when guys are on base, you’re one quality pitch from getting out of it. So I was able to bear down and get out of some innings where I got the leadoff guy on. Definitely want to just keep getting better, keep improving.

“I’m not very happy about being a five (innings) and dive guy today,” Harrison said, “but with the situation, I had to come out. I just hope to continue what I’m doing.”