OAKLAND CA - AUGUST 07: Rich Harden #40 of the Texas Rangers reacts after walking in a run in the first inning of their game against the Oakland Athletics at the Oakland-Alameda County Coliseum on August 7 2010 in Oakland California. (Photo by Ezra Shaw/Getty Images)

Texas Flirts With No Hitter, Wins 4-0

The Rangers play host tonight to the Twins as Rich Harden makes his first start for the Rangers since August 7th.

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Rangers 4, Twins 0: Near No Hitter Recap

Arlington, TX (Sports Network) – Minnesota catcher Joe Mauer broke up a combined no-hitter with a one-out single off Neftali Feliz in the ninth inning, but Texas used sensational pitching to defeat the Twins, 4-0, in the opener of a four-game series at Rangers Ballpark.

Rich Harden, Matt Harrison, Darren O’Day, and Feliz were close to tossing the first official combined no-hitter in the majors since Houston used six pitchers to blank the New York Yankees, 8-0, on June 11, 2003.

Harden (5-4) went 6 2/3 frames in the start, fanning six batters and walking five. He tossed 111 pitches before being pulled with Jim Thome coming to the plate.

Harrison got Thome to line out to keep the combined no-no alive. O’Day came on in the eighth and almost gave up a hit to the first batter. Delmon Young hit a sharp grounder down the first-base line. The ball made a sharp turn after it hit the dirt. Michael Cuddyer stopped the ball with his glove and tossed the ball to O’Day, who was covering first. The next two batters went down on strikes.

Feliz took to the mound in the ninth with history on the line. The anticipation built after Denard Span flied out. Orlando Hudson then walked to bring Mauer to the plate. Mauer laced an 0-2 pitch back up the middle to halt what would’ve been the sixth no-hitter in Rangers history. Following a wild pitch, Feliz retired the next two batters to end the game.

It would’ve been the first no-hitter for the Rangers since Kenny Rogers tossed a perfect game on July 28, 1994.

There has been five no-hitters in the majors this season.

The Rangers scored the only runs they would need in the first inning. With two outs, Josh Hamilton and Vladimir Guerrero hit consecutive infield singles. David Murphy drove in both men with a triple to center.

Harden retired the first nine batters he faced before walking Span to lead off the fourth. After Hudson lined out, Harden walked Mauer. Jason Kubel flied out and Cuddyer struck out to keep Harden’s bid for a no-hitter alive.

Thome led off the fifth with a walk. Young grounded into a fielder’s choice and Danny Valencia grounded into a double play to end the frame.

Texas added a run in the home fifth. Julio Borbon and Elvis Andrus singled to put men on the corners with one out. Michael Young hit a grounder to shortstop J.J. Hardy, who stepped on second for the second out before throwing to first. The throw was high, though, allowing a run to score.

Harden retired the first two batters in the seventh before walking Cuddyer. With Harden’s pitch count at 111, Rangers manager Ron Washington made his way to the mound. Following a lengthy discussion, Harrison came in from the bullpen to relieve Harden.

Hamilton’s sacrifice fly in the eighth made it 4-0.

Twins starter Nick Blackburn (7-8) lasted seven innings, allowing three runs on eight hits. He also struck out five and walked no batters as the Twins saw their lead in the AL Central trimmed to 4 1/2 games over the White Sox.

Game Notes

Minnesota swept the Rangers in a three-game set at Target Field earlier in the year and has won seven of the last 10 matchups in the series….Texas activated catcher Matt Treanor and Harden from the 15-day disabled list prior to the game. To make room on the roster, the club optioned catcher Taylor Teagarden to Triple-A Oklahoma City and placed pitcher Scott Feldman on the 15-day DL…The Twins started a seven-game road trip on Monday, while the Rangers got a seven-game homestand underway.

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Harden And Treanor Activated, Feldman Disabled, Teagarden Optioned

According to Anthony Andro, the Rangers have made four roster moves today. They have activated tonight’s starting pitcher Rich Harden and catcher Matt Treanor from the disabled list. With the corresponding roster moves, the Rangers optioned catcher Taylor Teagarden to the minor leagues and placed pitcher Scott Feldman on the 15 day disabled list with soreness in his right knee.

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Harden, Rangers Host Surging Twins

(Sports Network) - The Texas Rangers return home to face the Minnesota Twins in a potential playoff preview when the division leaders square off tonight in the first of four straight games at Rangers Ballpark in Arlington.

Texas, vying for its first postseason appearance since 1999, comes into tonight's matchup holding an eight-game lead on both the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim and Oakland Athletics in the American League West, while the Twins sit five games in front of the Chicago White Sox in the Central.

After getting swept in a three-game series by the Tampa Bay Rays to start their seven-game road trip, the Rangers managed a split in their four-game affair with the lowly Baltimore Orioles after capturing Sunday's finale at Camden Yards.

Josh Hamilton and Vladimir Guerrero hit three-run home runs in support of Tommy Hunter's eight effective innings as Texas topped Baltimore, 6-4, on Sunday. Hamilton finished 2-for-4 with two runs scored while Guerrero, Julio Borbon and Elvis Andrus each added a pair of hits for the Rangers, who despite the poor trip, lost just a half-game to their competitors in the standings.

"We could have come off the road trip a lot worse than we did -- what did we lose, one game [in the standings]?" Hamilton pointed out. "But it could have been a lot worse. It was good we hung in there."

Hunter (10-2) permitted three runs on five hits without a strikeout or a walk and was followed by Neftali Feliz, who allowed a ninth-inning home run but managed to earn his 31st save for Texas, which improved to 8-11 in August.

"He was hitting his spots," said Rangers manager Ron Washington in grading Hunter's outing. "He had his cutter working, he had his changeup working, everything was down in the zone. He was spotting his fastball and getting quick outs. When he does that, you'll get the performance you got out there [Sunday]."

Heading to the hill for the Rangers tonight will be right-hander Rich Harden, who hasn't pitched since August 7 because of tendinitis in his right shoulder. Harden had lost three of his last four starts before being put on the disabled list and is just 4-4 with a 5.45 ERA on the year.

Harden is 1-1 with a 2.30 ERA in five starts against the Twins.

Minnesota, meanwhile, continues to be one of the hottest teams in baseball, winning eight of its last 10 games after taking two of three from the Angels over the weekend.

On Sunday, Michael Cuddyer hit a three-run double to back Scott Baker's solid performance on the mound as the Twins rolled to a 4-0 victory in the rubber match of that set at Target Field. Danny Valencia hit a solo homer for the Twins, who ended a nine-game homestand with a 7-2 record.

"They're all big games right now," Cuddyer said. "You've got to win each and every game. It was a good homestand for us. Hopefully we can go play well on the road."

Baker (11-9) pitched seven scoreless innings to win his fourth straight decision. The right-hander struck out four and walked two to beat Los Angeles for the first time in his career. He came into the game with an 0-5 mark in eight career starts against the Angels.

The Twins have gone 17-6 against the AL West this season.

Hoping to keep the Twins in the win column this evening will be right-hander Nick Blackburn, who hasn't pitched in the majors since July 25 but was recalled in place of the injured Kevin Slowey. Francisco Liriano was actually supposed to start tonight's tilt, but has been pushed back a day to give him extra rest.

Blackburn, who is 7-7 with a 6.66 ERA on the year, is 0-1 with a 4.50 ERA in two starts versus the Rangers.

Minnesota swept the Rangers in a three-game set at Target Field earlier in the year and has won seven of the last nine matchups in the series.

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