ARLINGTON, Texas -- Jeff Harris pitched in minor and independent leagues from China to Mexico to Canada. He spent offseasons doing construction jobs, just biding time until it was baseball season again.
Eleven years after being drafted, the 31-year-old Seattle Mariners right-hander finally has his first major-league victory.
Harris, recalled from Triple-A Tacoma to make his second career start, limited the Texas Rangers to four singles and an unearned run over seven innings in the Mariners' 8-2 victory on Thursday.
"This is the only thing I've ever wanted to do," Harris said. "I was just going to ride it out as long as I could. I always told myself I had the rest of my life to get a real job."
Seattle managed just three hits and three runs over the first seven innings against Joaquin Benoit (3-4), who retired 18 batters in a row at one point. He still lost his third straight start.
Harris was drafted by Minnesota in 1995, and stayed in the Twins organization until he was released after the 2000 season. After two years in an independent league in Chico, Calif., and failing to make a team in Taiwan, Harris played in leagues in China and Mexico before going to Quebec, where he was last summer when signed by the Mariners organization.
"It was definitely worth every bit of it," Harris said. "I wouldn't change what it took to get here for anything. ... To get that first win is just a really special feeling."
Harris went seven innings and threw 94 pitches on a day when the temperature was 95 degrees at game time. He benefited from four double plays.
The right-hander had pitched in three games for Seattle in his first major-league stint earlier this month, allowing three runs and five hits over 5 2/3 innings in his only previous start, a 3-1 loss to the Chicago White Sox on Aug. 7. He then went back to Tacoma, but is back in the rotation spot of Gil Meche, who went on the disabled list last weekend (right knee tendinitis).
"He threw strikes and when he got in trouble, he got ground balls. That's how to pitch," manager Mike Hargrove said. "A performance like that from your starter, it goes a long way. ... I think Jeff might get another start."
The Rangers, who before this series had a 1-12 trip that was the worst in team history, had 14 runs and 11 extra-base hits the first two games against the Mariners. Texas leads the majors with 206 home runs.
Ibanez dropped a fly ball in the second for an error that led to a Texas run, but started an inning-ending double play with a leaping catch against the left-field wall in the seventh against Kevin Mench, Harris' last batter. Ibanez doubled up Hank Blalock at first, when it was still 3-1.
After giving up two runs in the first, including the solo homer by Ibanez, Benoit didn't allow another runner until Gregg Dobbs reached with two outs in the seventh when left fielder David Dellucci dropped a fly ball for an error. Yuniesky Betancourt had an RBI single.
"Joaquin was outstanding. His background is that he struggles from the fourth through the sixth. It's been a challenge, but today he was outstanding," manager Buck Showalter said.
"I did some things I haven't done," Benoit said. "I went longer into the game and threw fewer pitchers. It was a good game for me, but bad result."
Benoit struck out the first two batters of the game, getting Ichiro on three pitches, before Ibanez hit his 17th homer. Richie Sexson walked and scored on a double by Adrian Beltre before an inning-ending flyout by Dobbs that started Benoit's impressive streak.
While opponents are hitting just .201 against him, Benoit has made five starts since his last victory, July 30 at Toronto.
|It's a long time coming, but Seattle's Jeff Harris gets his first big-league victory. (AP)|
|Players of the Game|
|Ichiro Suzuki, RF||5||1||1||4||0||2||1||.300|
|Willie Bloomquist, 2B||5||0||0||0||0||1||0||.256|
|Raul Ibanez, LF||5||1||1||1||0||0||2||.287|
|Yorvit Torrealba, C||0||0||0||0||0||0||0||.246|
|Richie Sexson, 1B||3||1||0||0||1||2||2||.259|
|Adrian Beltre, 3B||4||1||2||1||0||0||0||.264|
|Greg Dobbs, DH||3||2||0||0||1||0||1||.200|
|Yuniesky Betancourt, SS||3||0||1||1||0||0||0||.262|
|Jeremy Reed, CF||3||1||0||0||1||1||1||.254|
|Miguel Ojeda, C||3||0||0||0||0||0||0||.128|
|a- Dave Hansen, PH||0||0||0||0||0||0||0||.163|
|b- Jamal Strong, PH-LF||1||1||1||1||0||0||0||.500|
|a-announced for Ojeda in the 9th|
|b-singled for Hansen in the 9th|
|2B - Adrian Beltre (28, Benoit)|
|HR - Ichiro Suzuki (13, Thompson), Raul Ibanez (17, Benoit)|
|SH - Yuniesky Betancourt (1)|
|RBI - Ichiro Suzuki 4 (55), Raul Ibanez (72), Adrian Beltre (76), Yuniesky Betancourt (6), Jamal Strong (1)|
|2-OUT RBI - Raul Ibanez (37), Adrian Beltre (17), Yuniesky Betancourt (3)|
|Team LOB - 4|
|Outfield Assists - Raul Ibanez 1|
|DP - Harris-Betancourt-Sexson, Betancourt-Bloomquist-Sexson, Bloomquist-Betancourt-Sexson, Ibanez-Betancourt-Sexson|
|E - Raul Ibanez (2, Dropped fly)|
|Jeff Harris (W,1-1)||7||4||1||0||2||2||0||1.69|
|J.J. Putz (H,13)||1||0||0||0||0||1||0||3.75|
|Pitches-Strikes - Jeff Harris 94-59, J.J. Putz 13-8, Eddie Guardado 17-12|
|Ground Balls-Fly Balls - Jeff Harris 8-8, J.J. Putz 2-0, Eddie Guardado 1-1|
|Batters Faced - Jeff Harris 24, J.J. Putz 3, Eddie Guardado 5|
|David Dellucci, LF||3||0||0||0||0||0||0||.259|
|a- Phil Nevin, PH||1||0||0||0||0||1||0||.244|
|Michael Young, SS||3||0||2||0||1||0||0||.326|
|Mark Teixeira, DH||3||1||1||0||1||1||2||.283|
|Hank Blalock, 3B||4||0||2||1||0||1||1||.275|
|Alfonso Soriano, 2B||4||1||0||0||0||0||2||.279|
|Kevin Mench, RF||3||0||0||0||0||0||2||.281|
|Adrian Gonzalez, 1B||3||0||1||1||0||1||0||.246|
|Gary Matthews Jr., CF||3||0||0||0||0||0||1||.267|
|Sandy Alomar Jr., C||3||0||0||0||0||0||0||.286|
|a-struck out for Dellucci in the 9th|
|2B - Mark Teixeira (30, Guardado)|
|RBI - Hank Blalock (76), Adrian Gonzalez (8)|
|2-OUT RBI - Hank Blalock (27)|
|SB - Michael Young (4, 2nd base off Harris/Ojeda), Alfonso Soriano (20, 3rd base off Harris/Ojeda)|
|Team LOB - 3|
|E - David Dellucci (2, Dropped fly), Alfonso Soriano (19, Wild throw), Michael Young 2 (13, Wild throw)|
|Joaquin Benoit (L,3-4)||7||3||3||2||1||4||1||3.56|
|IBB - Reed by Doug Brocail|
|Pitches-Strikes - Joaquin Benoit 102-68, Doug Brocail 36-21, Justin Thompson 12-7|
|Ground Balls-Fly Balls - Joaquin Benoit 5-13, Doug Brocail 3-1, Justin Thompson 1-1|
|Batters Faced - Joaquin Benoit 26, Doug Brocail 9, Justin Thompson 4|
|Attendance - 19112|
|Game Time - 2:32|
|Temperature - 95|
|Umpires - Home - Jerry Meals, First Base - Hunter Wendelstedt, Second Base - Mike Winters, Third Base - Bruce Froemming|