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TEX@SEA: Harrison tosses a complete-game shutout

When the Rangers' Matt Harrison and the Angels' Dan Haren square off Sunday in the series finale between the AL West rivals, both pitchers will have a sense of the moment at hand.

Said Harrison, a first-time All-Star earlier this month: "I treat each team like they are the best in the league. You can't take any team lightly. I know division games mean more, especially at this point of the season. These guys are really playing well right now."

Haren, coming off his first stint on the disabled list, knows the task at hand just as well. He is pumped to face the Rangers, and to be back on the mound.

"Absolutely. That's what it's all about. I want to win. I want to be part of a winning atmosphere," Haren said. "To go out there and compete against one of the best teams in the American League -- I miss that. I mean, it [stunk] being on the DL, watching games on TV. I'm looking forward to getting out there and competing."

So, the scene is set for the latest matchup of one of the AL's burgeoning rivalries, a matchup in the twilight of a Sunday night national broadcast. The two teams split the first two games, so heading into Sunday's rubber game the Rangers hold a six-game lead over the Angels -- who suddenly have company in the AL West and Wild Card standings in the upstart A's.

This start is particularly huge for Haren, whose 6-8 record and 4.86 ERA are well off the standard he has set in his career. He and the Angels hope his back stiffness is in the past, and that he can return to form in the second half.

How he performs could have some bearing on how the Angels approach the Trade Deadline, but for now the Angels are thinking good thoughts about seeing Haren back at his best.

"You probably won't see him getting into the 115-pitch range like [Jered Weaver did Friday], but he's got enough to pitch deep into the game," Angels manager Mike Scioscia said.

Added Haren: "It's not necessarily that I'm going to come back throwing 95 mph -- but the quality of the pitch, the angle on my fastball, the angle on my cutter, being able to finish better."

Harrison, meanwhile, remains one of the hottest starters in the game, coming off a complete-game victory over the Mariners that puts him at 8-1 with a 1.34 ERA over his last 10 starts. He is 17-5 with a 3.26 ERA in 26 starts and 12 relief appearances against the AL West in his career. However, he is 1-1 with a 4.97 ERA in two starts against the Angels this year.

Rangers: Lineup stays the same
The Rangers went into Saturday's game hitting .234 with a .327 slugging percentage in 13 July games. But manager Ron Washington has no plans to make changes to the batting order.

"Everybody wants to shake up the lineup, but my experience is that when I woke up in the morning and I was in a certain spot in the lineup, it helped me a lot," Washington said. "I knew what my job was. With this lineup, there's really nothing I can do with it. They are all in the best places I can put them."

On Saturday, the Rangers' hitters proved Washington right, knocking 15 hits and scoring nine runs. Ian Kinsler went 2-for-5 with a two-run homer and an RBI double to snap a 2-for-21 skid, and Mike Napoli's two-homer game was a second straight big game after a lull.

• Adrian Beltre is hitting .436 with three home runs and 11 RBIs in 55 at-bats against Haren. That's the highest batting average of any active player with at least 25 at-bats against him. David Murphy isn't far behind at 9-for-22, and Elvis Andrus is 9-for-24.

• Mitch Moreland is expected to begin a medical rehabilitation assignment with Triple-A Round Rock on Monday.

Angels: Outfield about to crowd
Before Vernon Wells headed out Saturday on a Minor League rehabilitation assignment that likely will last about a week, Scioscia wanted to make sure he discussed what awaits Wells when he returns to active duty with the Angels after being on the DL with a thumb injury.

With the Angels' full in the outfield and at DH, the situations will be limited for the veteran, be it DH against lefties or to give right fielder Torii Hunter a day off here and there.

"I think he wants to contribute, he wants to make us a better team," Scioscia said. "Right now, everyday at-bats aren't there for him. He understands that.

"We'll look at it when that situation happens. We're still a little bit away. A week in this game could be a lifetime."

• Mike Trout scored a run in his 13th consecutive game Saturday, tying an Angels and American League rookie record, putting those marks in jeopardy Sunday.

Worth noting
• The Rangers edged ahead with a 4-3 advantage in the 19-game season series with Saturday's victory. After Sunday's finale, the teams will face each other again after just two more series, meeting in Texas for a four-game set on July 30.

• Following Sunday's game, the Angels continue an extended homestand with the Royals coming in for three and the Rays in for three, with a Thursday off-day in between. The Rangers head home for an extended stay of their own, a 10-game stand that begins Monday with the first of three games against the Red Sox. Comments