SAN FRANCISCO -- There was a point last month when Matt Harrison visited with manager Ron Washington in his office. Harrison was trying to make his case before being allowed to stay in the game longer. Harrison did not want to be a six-inning pitcher.
Washington said he didn't want that either, but Harrison needed to stop running into trouble in the late innings, forcing the manager to go to the bullpen. Harrison did that with his shutout Friday night.
"Hopefully this is something that will help establish him as one of the better pitchers in the league," Washington said. "He's been trying to finish ballgames. He's been mad when I take him out. I've felt his wrath. I told him if he wants to finish ballgames, he needs to get outs in the seventh and eighth innings. He went out there and got outs in the seventh and eighth innings."
Harrison allowed five hits and did not walk a batter. The last Rangers pitcher to throw a shutout with no walks and five hits or fewer allowed was Rick Helling on July 29, 2001, against Tampa Bay. The last left-hander was Darren Oliver on June 8, 1996, against Toronto. The Giants had not been shut out in 75 straight games before facing Harrison on Friday.
Torrealba making most of backup role
SAN FRANCISCO -- Yorvit Torrealba was behind the plate for Matt Harrison's shutout Friday night and the nine scoreless innings lowered his catcher's ERA to 3.41 on the season. Harrison praised Torrealba's work, saying he didn't shake off his catcher all night.
"It was easy," Torrealba said. "Whatever I put down, he was able to throw for strikes. He was really sharp."
The 3.41 catcher's ERA is a significant drop from his 4.31 CERA last season when Torrealba was first learning the American League. Mike Napoli had a 3.16 CERA last season and is at 3.91 this year.
Napoli was behind the plate Saturday for the 34th time this season as he continues to get the majority of the playing time. Torrealba has started 26 games. Torrealba had 95 starts last season. Napoli had 57 while getting additional playing time at first base and designated hitter.
Offense is the biggest reason why Napoli remains the Rangers' No. 1 catcher. After having a career year in 2011, Napoli went into Saturday's game hitting .259 with 10 home runs and 28 RBIs. He had a .362 on-base percentage and a .482 slugging percentage. Torrealba was hitting .231 with two home runs and six RBIs, along with a .316 on-base percentage and a .352 slugging percentage.
"Defensively I'm feeling good, way better than last year" Torrealba said. "Offensively I still have issues with my timing. One day I'll have good timing, the next start I don't feel like I have it. I've been battling and I've been working. But we're still early in the year; we have a lot of games to go. It's getting better."
Torrealba said adjusting to a backup role has been hard.
"Honestly, it has been," Torrealba said. "I said in Spring Training I know Napoli deserves to play. The year he had last year was out of this world. I had a good year but his year was unbelievable. All I can do is stay ready and when I'm in the lineup do the best I can."
Five-hit game gets Gentry another start
SAN FRANCISCO -- Craig Gentry was back in the lineup Saturday even though right-hander Ryan Vogelsong was on the mound for the Giants. Normally David Murphy starts against right-handers, but manager Ron Washington decided to reward Gentry after he had a career-high five hits Friday night.
"The guy had a 5-for-5 night, he deserves to be out there," Washington said. "It may be a long time before he gets five hits in a game again. It doesn't happen that often."
Two of the hits were off right-handers. Gentry, a right-handed hitter, has nine hits in his last 23 at-bats (.391) against right-handers and is hitting .289 against them on the season. He hit .277 against them last year although with almost no power. His slugging percentage was .292.
"I feel good right now," Gentry said. "It's not like I've never faced a right-hander before. You still stay with the same approach. I'm not going to try and overthink it, just stay with what I've done."
Double-A Frisco right-handed reliever Ross Wolf, who was signed as a free agent after being released by the Orioles on April 23, picked up his third save in a 5-2 victory over San Antonio on Friday night and has not allowed a run in his last 13 appearances. In 18 1/3 innings he has allowed 13 hits and three walks while striking out 20.
Since the beginning of 2008, Ian Kinsler has hit 22 first-inning home runs from the leadoff spot, the most in the Majors.
Triple-A Round Rock outfielder Julio Borbon, going into Saturday, has hit in 17 straight games.
Left-handed pitcher John Gaub, who was designated for assignment Thursday to make room for Tanner Scheppers on the 40-man roster, has been claimed by the Cardinals.
T.R. Sullivan is a reporter for MLB.com. Read his blog, Postcards from Elysian Fields, and follow him on Twitter @Sullivan_Ranger. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.