ARLINGTON, Texas -- Nolan Ryan won his first game 23 years ago when he beat Larry Dierker and the Astros, and in the ensuing seasons he has won 304 more games -- including seven no-hitters -- and defeated 206 other pitchers. But he never beat Jack Morris.
And he still hasn't.
A duel between two pitchers with 507 major league victories between them didn't last long last night. Morris more than did his job against the Rangers, but the Twins drove the legendary Ryan from the mound by the fifth inning in Minnesota's 9-1 victory at Arlington Stadium.
Helped by home runs from Greg Gagne and Kent Hrbek, Morris finally followed up a good start with another one to win his fifth game of the season and the 203rd of his career. After beating Kansas City 3-2 Friday, Morris held the formerly red-hot Rangers to one run and four hits and struck out a season-high eight batters in his second complete game.
Meanwhile, the Twins were knocking around the Rangers' pitchers, including Ryan, who they drove from the mound in four innings. In his first start since returning from the disabled list with a sore shoulder, the 44-year-old Ryan gave up five runs and five hits in four innings, walked one and struck out four.
"I threw bad pitches," Ryan said. "The command of my pitches was the problem, which is pretty normal after coming off the DL. I don't expect any more discomfort than after a normal start. I felt good physically."
Morris was happy to beat Ryan.
"It was quite obvious Nolan didn't have his stuff tonight," Morris said. "If you're going to beat him, those are the times you have to do it. I think the way to beat Nolan is the same as it's always been. You've got to get to him early.