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Sports

Dirk Throws First Pitch Before Rangers Clobber Mets

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Dallas Mavericks' Dirk Nowitzki, of Germany, throws out the honorary first pitch before the start of an interleague baseball game between the New York Mets and the Texas Rangers, Friday, June 24, 2011, in Arlington, Texas. (AP Photo/Tony Gutierrez)

Dallas Mavericks’ Dirk Nowitzki, of Germany, throws out the honorary first pitch before the start of an interleague baseball game between the New York Mets and the Texas Rangers, Friday, June 24, 2011, in Arlington, Texas. (AP Photo/Tony Gutierrez)

By STEPHEN HAWKINS
AP Sports Writer
ARLINGTON, Texas (AP) _ Mike Pelfrey keeps having a tough time
on the road.

Six days after a complete-game victory at home for the Mets,
Pelfrey yielded an early home run and New York’s offense provided
no help in an 8-1 loss to the AL West-leading Texas Rangers on
Friday night.

Adrian Beltre snapped a 13-game homerless drought with a two-run
shot off Pelfrey (4-6) that put the Rangers up 3-0 in the first.
Beltre’s 13th homer was his first since June 8.

“I didn’t get off to the start I wanted. My fastball command
wasn’t very good,” Pelfrey said. “I had a good slider, which
ended up saving the outing. But I made some mistakes. Beltre was
right down the middle. They make you pay for it.”

Pelfrey went the distance to beat the Los Angeles Angels at home
last Saturday. But the right-hander gave up four runs over six
innings to fall to 1-6 with a 6.55 ERA in nine starts away from
Citi Field this season.

Matt Harrison (6-6) pitches seven strong innings for the
Rangers, who also got homers from Michael Young and Josh Hamilton.
It was Hamilton’s 100th career homer.

“You give up six runs on two-run homers, it’s tough to for us
to catch up in those circumstances,” Mets manager Terry Collins
said. “In this park, you’ve really got to bear down and make your
pitches.”

Ian Kinsler hit a leadoff double in the first, moved up on a
sacrifice by Elvis Andrus and scored on Hamilton’s single. Beltre
followed with his drive to left.

It was the 14th homer allowed this year by Pelfrey, already two
more than all of last season.

“The rate I’ve been giving up home runs, anywhere we go, I try
to keep the ball in the park,” Pelfrey said. “It didn’t play in
my head because the guy on the other side has to pitch in the same
circumstances. But I made mistakes and paid for it.”

Beltre added a one-out double in the seventh off Manny Acosta
before Young hit his fifth homer.

Hamilton connected for a two-run drive off Acosta in the eighth.
All seven of the reigning AL MVP’s homers this season have come in
29 games since coming of a six-week stint on the disabled list for
a broken bone in his upper right arm.

Beltre, hitless in 10 at-bats coming into the game, finished
with three extra-base hits after another double in the eighth.
New York opened a stretch of playing 13 of 16 games on the road
before the All-Star break.

“We’ve been here before,” Collins said. “Last road trip, we
lost one, won the next two.”

The Rangers won two of three at home earlier this week against
the Astros to begin a span of 19 games before the break when their
only road games are during a three-game series at Houston next
week.

Over the past six weeks, Harrison has pitched through a kidney
stone, missed a start because of a blister on his index finger and
taken a liner off his left arm.

This solid outing came six days after Harrison (6-6) remained on
the mound after a rain delay of 2 hours, 16 minutes in Atlanta and
earned a no-decision in his first career start against the team
that drafted him, when the Rangers won in 10 innings.

“It’s nice not to have to pitch with a kidney stone or a
blister, or a bruise on my arm,” Harrison said with a smile. “I
guess you can kind of say this is a rebound game from all that.”

Harrison is 3-2 with a 1.43 ERA over his last six starts and his
season ERA of 3.00 is among the best in the majors for a lefty.

“He’s focused. Whatever trouble he created tonight, he was able
to pitch around,” Rangers manager Ron Washington said. “Continue
to do that, it builds your confidence.”

Andrus had an RBI single in the fourth before leaving the game
with a sprained left wrist. The shortstop got hurt when his left
hand buckled awkwardly on the ground when he sliding headfirst for
his 22nd stolen base of the season. He was replaced in the field by
Andres Blanco to start the fifth.

An MRI is scheduled for Saturday, but Washington doesn’t think
the injury is serious.

NOTES: The Mets got their run in the fifth when Ronny Paulino
hit a leadoff double and scored on a single by Ruben Tejada. …
Jason Bay had three singles for the Mets, his fifth multihit
performance in the last nine games. … Both weekend games in the
series will be day games. The forecasted high for both days is 99
degrees. It is the first time since 2005 with consecutive day games
at Rangers Ballpark during the summer heat. … The only other time
the Mets played at Rangers Ballpark was 2003. New York won two of
three in that series, and also at home in 2008, outscoring Texas
44-22 in those six games.

(Copyright 2011 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)

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