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Jon Krawczynski / AP Baseball Writer, Published April 13 2012

Nathan sits as Rangers get past Twins

MINNEAPOLIS – Minnesota Twins fans, and even some players, were eager to see Joe Nathan take the mound for the Texas Rangers in his first game back at Target Field on Friday night.

Rangers manager Ron Washington decided to give his closer one more day of rest after a long week, and Matt Harrison had already done most of the heavy lifting to put Texas in position for another victory.

Harrison breezed through eight innings and Ian Kinsler homered to lead Texas to a 4-1 victory over the Twins on Friday night.

Harrison (2-0) allowed one run on seven hits with four strikeouts and Elvis Andrus had three hits for the Rangers.

“He was pounding the zone,” Andrus said of Harrison, the 26-year-old left-hander who started Game 7 of the World Series last year. “He’s been doing that since last year. When he’s good, he’s pounding the zone with first-pitch strikes. He’s got good stuff and every time he gets ahead, he’s really tough.”

When Washington went to Ogando for the ninth, there were some eyebrows raised.

Nathan is 0-2 with two saves in his first four outings, including a blown save in his last outing against Seattle on Wednesday. Making his first appearance in the place he spent the previous seven years would have been a fitting way to try to bounce back.

But he had thrown in five of six days, including a warmup, before getting Thursday off, so Washington decided to give him one more day of rest, even though he was back in the town where he became a star.

“There’s nothing wrong with Joe,” Washington said. “He’s ready to go. I’ll give him the ball tomorrow.”

Anthony Swarzak (0-2) gave up four runs on nine hits with three strikeouts in seven innings for the Twins. Danny Valencia had a sacrifice fly in the second inning, but that was all they could muster against Harrison.

Harrison threw six shutout innings in his first outing of the season and had little trouble against a Twins offense that has scored more than two runs just twice in the first seven games. He was in a little jam in the fifth when the Twins had runners on the corners and two outs, but the big lefty struck out Joe Mauer to end the inning. He also got Mauer to ground into a double play after Jamey Carroll led off the eighth with a single.

“His ball was diving all over the place,” Twins manager Ron Gardenhire said.

Michael Young added two hits and an RBI for Texas.

The Rangers got to Swarzak in the fourth, stringing together four straight singles and taking advantage of an error by second baseman Luke Hughes to take a 3-1 lead. Swarzak was able to limit the damage, turning a bases-loaded, no-out jam into just one run on a sacrifice fly from David Murphy before getting to the dugout.

Texas Minnesota

ab r h bi ab r h bi

Kinsler 2b 5 1 1 1 Span cf 4 0 1 0

Andrus ss 4 1 3 0 JCarrll ss 3 0 1 0

Hamltn cf-lf 4 1 1 0 Mauer 1b 4 0 1 0

Beltre 3b 4 1 1 1 Mornea dh 4 0 0 0

MYong dh 4 0 2 1 Wlngh lf 2 1 1 0

N.Cruz rf 4 0 0 0 Doumit c 4 0 2 0

DvMrp lf 3 0 0 1 Valenci 3b 3 0 0 1

Gentry cf 0 0 0 0 Plouffe rf 3 0 1 0

Napoli c 4 0 1 0 Parmel ph 1 0 0 0

Morlnd 1b 4 0 0 0 LHughs 2b 3 0 1 0

Brrghs ph 1 0 0 0

Totals 36 4 9 4 Totals 32 1 8 1

Texas 000 300 100—4

Minnesota 010 000 000—1

E—L.Hughes (1). DP—Texas 2. LOB—Texas 6, Minnesota 8. 2B—Andrus (1), Span (2), Plouffe (1). HR—Kinsler (4). SF—Dav.Murphy, Valencia.

IP H R ER BB SO

Texas

M.Harrison W,2-0 8 7 1 1 2 4

Ogando S,1-1 1 1 0 0 0 1

Minnesota

Swarzak L,0-2 7 9 4 4 0 3

Burton 1 0 0 0 0 1

Maloney 1 0 0 0 0 1

HBP—by Ogando (Willingham). PB—Napoli.

T—2:28. A—31,400 (39,500).