ARLINGTON -- Scott Feldman looked like the pitcher who won 17 games in 2009. Josh Hamilton looked like the reigning MVP. David Murphy played like he did down the stretch of 2010, not the opening months of 2011.
This is what Ron Washington has been waiting for. And, even though it was only one game, the Texas Rangers showed what they are capable of in a 2-0 victory over the Tampa Bay Rays on Tuesday night at Rangers Ballpark.
With the victory, the Rangers maintain at least a 31/2-game lead over the Los Angeles Angels in the American League West.
"Feldman got an opportunity tonight, and he stood tall," Washington said. "He really did. And we've been waiting for Hamilton. We've been waiting for Murphy. Everything those guys gave us, and everyone else on that field, we needed."
Feldman, making his first start since Sept. 28, 2010, had his sinker working better than it had in a while. He also kept his breaking pitch, cutter and changeup down in the zone.
Feldman induced 12 ground ball outs and four strikeouts. The other two outs came when Yorvit Torrealba gunned down two runners trying to steal second.
"I guess 2009 was the last time I felt like I was contributing on a regular basis," Feldman said. "Pitching in blowout games compared to this is a little better feeling, and I did what I was supposed to do."
Feldman made a spot start in place of Matt Harrison, who was skipped in the rotation to give him extra rest. But Washington downplayed any talk of Feldman potentially replacing Harrison, saying Feldman would be headed back to the bullpen. But that doesn't take anything away from Feldman's night.
He retired the first eight batters he faced before giving up a single to Sean Rodriguez with two outs in the third. Feldman allowed the leadoff man to reach in the fifth and sixth, but they were quickly retired when Torrealba caught both stealing.
Feldman was done after the sixth but earned his first victory as a starter since June 18, 2010, at Houston courtesy of a monster home run by Hamilton.
Tampa Bay starter Jeremy Hellickson matched Feldman through five scoreless innings but ran into trouble in the sixth. Hamilton launched the first pitch he saw 449 feet into the home run porch in right field to give the Rangers a 1-0 lead.
"I thought it was going to be the first time I'd seen a ball hit off the roof up there," Feldman said, smiling. 'He's a beast."
The Rangers added another run in the sixth when Murphy singled in Michael Young. The two runs were enough for Feldman and the Rangers' bullpen.
Neftali Feliz picked up his 26th save but made it interesting.
He allowed the first two hitters to reach but got Evan Longoria -- the go-ahead run -- to ground into an inning-ending double play. Feliz threw a 1-2 slider to end it, a pitch that he would have rarely thrown in that situation before.
"I threw four straight fastballs and was trying to throw something low and away," Feliz said. "My slider is the best pitch to do it. I was trying to get a strikeout or a ground ball, and the defense got the job done."