Balanced Rangers pick up Feliz against Astros

Balanced Rangers pick up Feliz against Astros

Balanced Rangers pick up Feliz against Astros
HOUSTON -- Neftali Feliz needed one more out to qualify for his fourth win of the season. Instead, he walked his fifth batter and manager Ron Washington had to come get him.

Feliz was not happy about it, but his anger wasn't directed at the manager.

"I was upset at myself, not completing the inning," Feliz said. "I wanted to complete five innings. I understand it happens. It's part of the game. I need to accept it and move on."

It's easier to accept because the Rangers won. Robbie Ross followed with 2 1/3 scoreless innings to get the victory as the Rangers opened their Lone Star Series against the Astros with a 4-1 victory at Minute Maid Park on Friday.

The victory to open Interleague Play comes after the Rangers had lost three of their last four to finish 3-4 on their last homestand.

"We usually do well in Interleague Play the last two or three years," outfielder Josh Hamilton said. "Hopefully, we got everybody rested on the homestand. Everybody got a day off, everybody should be feeling good and relaxed, and start getting after it again."

Adrian Beltre led the offense against Astros starter Wandy Rodriguez by going 2-for-3 with a home run and two RBIs. Ian Kinsler had three hits and Michael Young, who has been struggling lately, was 2-for-3. His second-inning single snapped an 0-for-11 skid.

"I don't get down on myself," Young said. "I look forward to the challenge. Obviously, I would love to be in a situation where I'm swinging the bat the way I'm capable, but I can't get down about it. I'm going to keep working hard and hope things start going my way."

Things have been going Feliz's way lately, but he couldn't nail down his third consecutive win. Instead, his night was cut short by five walks and one hit batter that led to 101 pitches thrown in less than five innings. Of those 101 pitches, 51 were balls.

He was able to keep things from unraveling by holding the Astros to 1-for-6 with runners in scoring position.

"Through all that, he gave up just three hits and one runs," Washington said. "If he had found himself, it could have been one heck of a game."

The Astros don't have much power on a club that entered Friday with the fourth fewest home runs in the National League. But they were hitting .282 with runners in scoring position, second highest in the league, until failing to take advantage of Feliz's wildness.

"It's one of those things where he was effectively wild tonight," Astros third baseman Chris Johnson said. "We had some guys on base, but when you play teams like this, you have to get that big hit and get some runs across. One run is not going to cut it against these guys."

It might have been different if the Astros scored first, and they had the bases loaded with one out in the second. But Feliz struck out Rodriguez and then, after falling behind 3-1 in the count, retired Jordan Schafer on a fly ball to left.

"He found a way to wiggle out of some stuff, he just couldn't command the baseball and he couldn't find his rhythm," Washington said.

The Rangers took a 2-0 lead in the third. Kinsler led off with a double to left and, after Elvis Andrus bounced back to the mound, Hamilton singled to put runners at the corners. Beltre's fly ball to center scored Kinsler. Hamilton then stole second while Young was drawing a walk and Nelson Cruz drove home the run with a single up the middle.

A leadoff walk cost Feliz a run in the bottom of the inning, but the Rangers got it back in the fifth on back-to-back doubles by Young and Beltre. That gave them a 3-1 lead and left Feliz needing just three outs to get the victory.

He didn't get them.

"Obviously, I wasn't executing tonight," Feliz said. "I just wasn't able to do what I wanted to do. I have to attack hitters and get ahead in counts. That's the main thing I wasn't doing."

Feliz walked Jose Altuve to start the inning. He struck out J.D. Martinez for the third straight time and retired Carlos Lee on a fly to right. But he walked Jed Lowrie and that was enough for Washington.

"He tried to get it done, it just wasn't there," Washington said.

The bullpen got it done and Joe Nathan, pitching for the fourth straight day, worked the ninth for his ninth save. Washington said afterward he expects Nathan to be unavailable on Saturday.

T.R. Sullivan is a reporter for Read his blog, Postcards from Elysian Fields, and follow him on Twitter @Sullivan_Ranger. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.