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Reax: Bullpen comes through, grows up

ARLINGTON, Texas -- Darren Oliver, the veteran leader of the Rangers' bullpen, marveled at what the kids in the 'pen did in Wednesday's 4-3 win over the Twins.

Michael Kirkman got through the top four hitters in the Twins' order in the seventh, and Alexi Ogando got a big out to end the eighth and a strikeout to start the ninth. Matt Harrison, with the crowd whipped up, got the final two batters via strikeouts to end the game.

"How about Harry?" Oliver said. "That's a 4-3 game on ESPN. He'll have some text messages on his phone. Kirkman and Ogando will, too. I told them that."

Manager Ron Washington, who had five relievers available and used all five of them, said he saw three young pitchers mature.

"They grew up tonight," Washington said. "They were in tough situations in a close game and came through."

Harrison earned the save, pumping his fist as he struck out Orlando Hudson. By getting Hudson, the game ended with the dangerous Joe Mauer in the on-deck circle. Harrison was told while he warmed up in the eighth that he'd probably get the second hitter, Denard Span. So that's what he thought about as he got ready.

Harrison said Wednesday's game was a lot different from the save he earned in Detroit earlier this year.

"I didn't even know that was a save until someone told me later," Harrison said. "Tonight, I knew I was the last guy in the bullpen. It was amped up. I kept the ball down and did it."

Harrison praised both Kirkman and Ogando, who also pitched in a one-run game against a good Twins lineup and made sure the lead held up. Kirkman admitted he was nervous but settled in after a few pitches.

"I got a good look at the middle of a great lineup," Kirkman said. "That's going to help me a lot. It was exciting and a good adrenaline rush."

Kirkman said he looked for veteran catcher Bengie Molina's signs and threw whatever he flashed up. Smart move from a rookie pitcher.

Don't overlook Ogando, either. He had great life on his fastball and continues to show he isn't intimidated by any situation.

"The thing is Wash trusts every guy down there," Michael Young said. "He'll put them in any situation because they can handle it and they did that tonight."

Other reaction:

* Washington didn't know what else to say about Josh Hamilton, who hit a home run (his 30th of the season) and continues to produce for this team.

"He's having an MVP year," Washington said. "We go like Josh goes. I don't have word to describe him. I'm worded out."

* Vladimir Guerrero sure is coming around. He was 3-for-4 with two RBIs, including the go-ahead homer in the sixth. He's hit safely in 12 of his past 13 games. The homer was his first in Arlington since July 9 versus Baltimore (the day the Rangers traded for Cliff Lee).

* Harrison joked that he was the "closer-slash-long reliever" on Wednesday, knowing he was the last line of defense out there. "I knew I was staying out there," Harrison said.

* C.J. Wilson won his sixth straight decision, which extends a career best. He's 6-0 with a 2.29 ERA in eight starts since the All-Star break. The most telling stat: Texas is now 20-6 in his 26 starts this season and has won 14 of the past 16 of those.

* The victory puts the Rangers a half-game up on the Twins in the American League standings as the teams battle for home-field advantage in the divisional round of the playoffs.