August 7, 2011

Rangers blow chance to convert another late rally

Neftali Feliz can't close out Cleveland in the ninth.

ARLINGTON -- Manager Ron Washington said it last weekend, and so did general manager Jon Daniels: Mike Adams and Koji Uehara have the ability to close games.

The newly acquired set-up relievers, it was said after two trade-deadline deals, can get the final three outs on days when Neftali Feliz can't go, or maybe shouldn't.

The time could soon be coming when the Texas Rangers take a look at what Adams and Uehara can do.

Feliz coughed up another lead Saturday, opening the door for a four-run Cleveland rally in the ninth and wasting the Rangers' comeback bid two innings earlier with a 7-5 victory.

Washington said afterward that Feliz wasn't the problem.

"He threw strikes," Washington said of Feliz, who threw 17 of his 25 pitches for strikes but failed to register a strikeout. "I think you've got to tip your cap to the Indians. They put together some good at-bats."

Feliz has blown six saves this season, and the Rangers have lost five of those games. The latest meltdown, which came with the Rangers ahead 4-3 entering the ninth, cost them an opportunity to pad their lead in the AL West.

Feliz (1-3) won't pitch today after working for a third straight day, something he had done twice previously this season without much difficulty. But it isn't easy.

"I don't think I have any problems with my arm," Feliz said. "You've just got to keep your head up. I feel good."

Former closer C.J. Wilson knows what Feliz is going through and he's not worried.

"You're wasted, man," Wilson said. "You have to understand he's going to have ups and downs. He's not going to be Mariano Rivera for another year or two. Maybe three. That's why I support him so much, because he's got so much potential."

The Indians caught a break on a ball that Kosuke Fukudome hammered into right-center field to start the ninth. Nelson Cruz chased down the drive, but the ball popped out of his glove for a leadoff double.

After a sacrifice bunt, Lonnie Chisenhall tied the game with a sharp single on an 0-2 fastball from Feliz.

Feliz got Lou Marson for the second out, but Michael Brantley ripped a double to right field on a 3-2 pitch to plate the go-ahead run. In came Yoshinori Tateyama, who surrendered a two-run homer to rookie Jason Kipnis.

Down 7-4, the Rangers couldn't escape from their second three-run deficit of the night. They scored once and had the trying run at second base, but Michael Young grounded out to end it.

With Seattle beating the Angels, the Rangers missed a chance to push their lead in the AL West to two games.

Cleveland broke a scoreless tie in the seventh thanks to some good fortune against Wilson.

Shelly Duncan drove in the first run with a one-out double, a batter after the barrel of Fukudome's bat sailed into the stands as he reached on an infield hit.

A balk by Darren Oliver, who dropped the ball while looking for a sign from Yorvit Torrealba, made it 2-0, and a throwing error and heady base running by Lou Marson gave the Indians a 3-0 lead.

The Rangers stormed right back. The first four hitters reached, and all scored. Ian Kinsler, who tied the game with a two-run single, scored the go-ahead run on a sacrifice fly by Josh Hamilton.

Uehara worked a scoreless eighth before giving way to Feliz.

Washington, though, is standing by his man."My confidence is still high," Washington said. "When you give the ball to the closer, yeah, you feel good about the game being over. But there are no guarantees."

Jeff Wilson, 817-390-7760

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