Matt Harrison struggles again

KANSAS CITY, Mo. -- In the course of a 162-game season, even All-Star pitchers have their lulls.

Left-hander Matt Harrison has been a huge part of the Rangers’ success this year, but he’ll be looking to atone for two subpar outings in a row when he makes his next start. Harrison lasted just 4 2/3 innings Tuesday night against the Royals. He ran out of steam in the fifth when the Royals used a two-run homer from Alex Gordon and an RBI double by Salvador Perez as a springboard to a 6-3 victory.

Harrison’s big problem was pitch efficiency. He needed 102 pitches to record 14 outs.

“I was doing everything I could to make them put it in play and they just wouldn’t,” Harrison said. “I tip my hat to them.”

Harrison was hopeful of a strong outing after he allowed 12 hits and seven earned runs in his previous start at Tampa Bay.

“It was a struggle in the last game, but I felt good coming into today,” Harrison said. “But I threw 80 pitches in four innings. Not a lot of good things happen when you do that.”

In the fifth, Harrison said he “made some mistakes up in the zone.”

Gordon’s homer was launched to straightaway center and gave Kansas City a 4-2 lead.

“The ball cut back over the middle of the plate,” Harrison said. “I was trying to go back in with a two-seamer.”

Harrison failed to go five innings for just the third time in 27 starts.

“He got two outs in the fourth, but just couldn’t get that third one,” Rangers manager Ron Washington said. “They fouled off a lot of pitches and he was a little bit inconsistent in the strike zone. He’d get 3-2 counts on a lot of hitters and they’d continue to foul balls off. He continued to make pitches, but in that fifth inning he couldn’t shut it down.”