August 4, 2012

Feldman plays ace again for Texas Rangers

Scott Feldman has won six straight decisions after another strong start.

KANSAS CITY, Mo. -- Yes, manager Ron Washington said, Scott Feldman will make his next start.

Washington has been asked that question countless times this season, but it came unprompted and with a smile on Saturday night.

Feldman delivered once again for the Rangers, winning his sixth straight decision in a 4-2 victory over the Royals.

Texas is on a four-game winning streak and extended its lead to 5 1/2 games over the Athletics in the American League West. Texas remained six games ahead of the Angels, who beat the White Sox on Saturday.

"We look energized, and we're playing good baseball," Washington said. "It's only four games [in a row]. I'd like to make it 24."

That would be the second-longest in major league history, two games shy of the New York Giants' 26-game streak in 1916. But enough with history.

Feldman has become a steadying force in the Rangers' rotation after Colby Lewis and Neftali Feliz were lost to season-ending injuries and Roy Oswalt didn't live up to expectations.

Feldman, meanwhile, has pitched like an ace of late. The Rangers staked him to a 3-0 lead with a two-run single by Josh Hamilton in the third and a sacrifice fly by Mike Olt in the fourth.

The Rangers missed an opportunity to do even more damage in the third. Hamilton didn't advance to second on his single when the Royals tried to make a play at the plate, and it proved costly. Adrian Beltre singled to put runners at first and second, and then Nelson Cruz had a sharp grounder to short that Alcides Escobar couldn't handle.

Hamilton held up at third on the play, leaving Beltre caught between second and third. Beltre was tagged out, and Cruz was thrown out at second as the Royals completed a rare double play on an error.

Feldman didn't run into trouble until the fifth. He issued a leadoff walk to Salvador Perez and a single to Eric Hosmer. Each of them scored on RBI groundouts as the Royals pulled to within 3-2.

In the sixth, the Rangers scored a run on a two-out single by Olt to regain a two-run lead, and Feldman worked out of a jam in the bottom half.

The Royals' first two batters, Lorenzo Cain and Billy Butler, singled, but Feldman ended the threat by getting Mike Moustakas to fly out and Perez to ground into a double play.

"That was obviously important because they're trying to get a rally going there," Feldman said. "I was able to make a good pitch [curveball] down and away, and the guys behind me turned a nice little double play there."

Feldman worked a perfect seventh and then exited with a runner on third and two outs in the eighth. Mike Adams closed out the eighth by striking out Butler.

With Joe Nathan unavailable for a second straight night, Alexi Ogando came in for the ninth. The Royals brought the tying run to the plate twice, but Ogando worked out of it and picked up his third save of the season.

"I'm trying to be a good teammate and do what I can to help the bullpen get some rest," Ogando said. "When I come in, I try and do what I need to do."

That's the approach Feldman has taken as well, and it's paying off. He is healthy and confident in all of his pitches, and he also credited working with catcher Mike Napoli.

Washington said Feldman has become the team's "security blanket," but Feldman wasn't ready to go that far.

"I felt like a person," Feldman said, holding a smirk back. "I didn't feel like a blanket."

Drew Davison, 817-390-7760

Twitter: @drewdavison

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