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08/06/10 9:50 PM ET

Harrison thrives despite desire to start

OAKLAND -- Matt Harrison made it clear.

"My goal is to be a starter," Harrison said.

That said, Harrison is starting to thrive in relief and showing why manager Ron Washington wanted a second left-hander in the bullpen. Darren Oliver was unavailable on Thursday night and Harrison was called upon in the seventh inning of a 3-0 game against the Mariners. He retired Casey Kotchman and Russell Branyan to kill off a Mariners threat in a critical moment.

"He's coming in and making things happen," Washington said. "He's beginning to fit into his role. He's starting to attack, throw strikes and make things happen."

Harrison went into Friday's game against the Athletics with a 1.52 ERA in his last 12 relief appearances. That's lowered his overall ERA from 5.40 to 3.92.

Harrison was told by pitching coach Mike Maddux and bullpen coach Andy Hawkins that pitching out of the bullpen was tougher than starting. But it can also help him as a starter in the future.

"Coming out of the bullpen and coming into tough situations, you have to get quick outs," Harrison said. "It makes you focus to pound the strike zone. It's a learning experience."

Harrison said watching Cliff Lee and Oliver, two veteran left-handers, also helps.

"They both pound the strike zone and say, 'Here, hit it,'" Harrison said. "It works for them; it should work for me. I have good enough stuff to pound the strike zone and get people out."

Murphy earns more playing time

OAKLAND -- Rangers manager Ron Washington's original plan was to start Julio Borbon on Friday night against Oakland left-hander Dallas Braden.

He changed his mind. David Murphy ended up starting instead. He is making it hard for Washington to take him out of the lineup.

"Awfully hard," Washington said. "It's a good thing though. I can't rightly pull him out of the lineup."

Murphy had a three-run homer in Wednesday's 11-6 victory over the Mariners and a two-run homer on Thursday. That one came in the seventh inning off Mariners pitcher Felix Hernandez and broke up a scoreless pitching duel.

"The guy has been swinging the bat," Washington said. "Let's go beyond the guy hitting two home runs. That was huge. ... He's just playing good baseball. It's hard to take him out because offense is something we need right now."

Murphy, who is technically the Rangers' fourth outfielder, has started 12 of 21 games since the All-Star break.

"I'm not making anything out of it," Murphy said. "Nothing has been said to me and I'm not reading anything to it. I just need to keep playing well and give it everything I've got."

Murphy had some concerns in Spring Training about how much he might play this season, especially with Josh Hamilton, Nelson Cruz and Vladimir Guerrero in the lineup. Murphy is not going to have anywhere near the required number of plate appearances to be listed among league leaders but he is satisfied that Washington still has much confidence in him.

"Definitely, especially the way the team has played," Murphy said. "How am I going to question playing time with the way this team has played? I figure whatever combination Wash puts out there will have success, so I trust the coaching staff and Wash that when he makes out the lineup, he feels it's best for the team on a given night."

Washington said he has talked to Borbon about the situation.

"I talked to Borbon and told him he's going to play," Washington said. "He has been a part of everything we're trying to do. Right now, we're riding the hot hand. He understands. He wants to win as bad as anybody out there. It's about winning ballgames and we're going to win ballgames with Borbon in there."

Feliz gets the message

OAKLAND -- Rangers closer Neftali Feliz needed just 11 pitches to finish off the Rangers' 6-0 victory over the Mariners on Thursday. The significance is it was not a save situation. Feliz has been successful in 20 straight save opportunities but he has struggled in non-save situations.

Most notable was giving up a 6-2 lead to the Orioles on July 9 in Arlington when Corey Patterson hit a ninth-inning grand slam.

Manager Ron Washington said a message is being constantly sent to Feliz about bearing down in every situation. The message is delivered by bullpen coach Andy Hawkins before Feliz goes into pitch and again by the catcher when Feliz gets to the mound. That's what happened on Thursday.

"The message was delivered," Washington said. "It was not a save situation, but it was a winning situation. Come in and get these guys out as quick as you can and get off the field. We make sure we remind him and give him something to reach for.

"If he's not in the right frame of mind, we'll get him in the right frame of mind. If he's in the right frame of mind and it doesn't get done, it doesn't get done."

Treanor closer; Kinsler awaits MRI

OAKLAND -- The latest from the Rangers' disabled list:

• Catcher Matt Treanor, who has been out since July 24 with a sprained left knee, said he is getting closer. Treanor has been hitting and throwing, and is starting to catch in the bullpen. He is hoping that he can go on a medical rehabilitation assignment in the next week or so during the Rangers' upcoming homestand.

"It's a battle working through the injury, but the progress has been good," Treanor said. "The whole idea is to come back and be fully functional. The idea is to be ready to play on a rehab assignment and when I come back, be able to play as if nothing happened."

• Second baseman Ian Kinsler (strained groin) is not doing anything until he undergoes an MRI on Monday in Arlington. That will tell him and the medical staff if he is ready to resume baseball activities.

• Pitcher Dustin Nippert, who was hit in the head with a line drive on July 19 in Detroit, has been cleared to resume baseball workouts back in Arlington.

• Joaquin Arias (back) is working out with the team here in Oakland.

Worth noting

The Rangers have outscored their opponents by 100 runs this season. Only twice in club history have the Rangers outscored their opponents by more than 100 runs. They were plus-129 in 1996 and plus-110 in '77. ... Elvis Andrus has been averaging 4.2 pitches per at-bat, the highest number for an American League leadoff hitter this year. ... Tommy Hunter's nine wins since the beginning of June are tied with CC Sabathia of the Yankees for the most in the Majors in that stretch.

T.R. Sullivan is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.