Feldman stifles White Sox to avoid sweep

Feldman stifles White Sox to avoid sweep

Feldman stifles White Sox to avoid sweep
ARLINGTON -- Sunday night belonged to Scott Feldman.

The Rangers still can't get a hit with runners in scoring position, but all of that was rendered irrelevant by Feldman's masterful pitching performance on a hot night at the Ballpark in Arlington.

Feldman held the White Sox scoreless through eight innings and the Rangers went on to a 2-0 victory before a sellout crowd of 46,744. Joe Nathan pitched the ninth for his 21st save and the Rangers were able to open up some ground on both the Athletics and the Angels.

Both teams lost so the Rangers are now 4 1/2 games ahead of the Athletics and five ahead of the Angels in the American League West.

"We needed it," manager Ron Washington said. "We definitely needed to win a ballgame tonight and we did."

The Rangers did so despite going 0-for-10 with runners in scoring position. They are hitless in their last 29 at-bats in those situations, but they were still able to manufacture two runs against White Sox starter Gavin Floyd.

"We played well for the most part tonight," first baseman Michael Young said. "We had some good at-bats and worked some deep counts. We feel in no time we are going to be running on all cylinders offensively."

The victory allowed the Rangers to snap a five-game losing streak against the White Sox. It also extended Feldman's winning streak to five. He is 5-0 with a 2.91 ERA in his last five starts and one relief apperance. Prior to that, he started the season 0-6 with a 6.50 ERA and was only clinging to a spot in the rotation because of injuries.

"It just proves that it's a long season," Feldman said. "You're going to play 162 games and you can't judge a guy too quickly out of the gate. You're going to have ups and downs. You've got to stay mentally strong."

Feldman did that.

"The main thing was I started having a better attitude," Feldman said. "I'm not getting caught up in rumors or when I'm going to pitch again or not pitch again. I'm keeping it simple."

His performance comes at a time when the Rangers have been fretting about their rotation. They tried to trade for Zack Greinke and have talked to other clubs about starting pitching. They have discussed the possibility of putting Alexi Ogando into the rotation and they considered all these things with the idea of returning Feldman to the bullpen.

But right now he is pitching better than anybody in the rotation.

"It's nice to see him pick us up at a huge time," Nathan said. "He couldn't have timed it any better for him to start pitching well when we're going through a little bit of a funk. He's become our stopper. He kills losing streaks and gets us back on the winning side."

Both offenses struggled with an early starting time (6:05 p.m. CT) and some late-afternoon shadows across the field. But Feldman was good in sunlight, twilight and moonlight, holding the White Sox to seven hits while striking out five. He did not walk a batter and has allowed just two bases on balls over 34 innings during his winning streak.

"He was awesome," outfielder David Murphy said. "You couldn't have asked for anything more than that."

"At first, you'd think it was just the starting time, but he threw well," White Sox manager Robin Ventura said. "Even when it got dark, he was still keeping us off balance. Any time we got anything going, he just found a way to get out of it. He got the pitch when he needed it. You just tip your hat."

Floyd was almost as good. But the White Sox defense gave away one run in the fourth and the Rangers' aggressive baserunning helped manufacture a second run in the sixth.

Josh Hamilton drew a one-out walk in the third and went to third on a two-out single by Murphy. Mike Napoli followed with a weak ground ball to shortstop Alexei Ramirez, who fumbled it for an error that allowed Hamilton to score.

Nelson Cruz's hustle brought home another run in the fifth. Cruz led off the inning with a double and went to third when Hamilton grounded out to second. That brought up Young and the White Sox brought the infield in to cut off the run.

On a full-count pitch, Young rolled a weak grounder to Floyd, who threw to first baseman Adam Dunn for the out. As he did, Cruz broke for the plate. Dunn double-clutched and then made a bad throw, allowing Cruz to slide in easily for the Rangers' second run.

"I couldn't get it out of my glove," Dunn said. "It wasn't one of my best throws. I saw him the whole way. It wasn't like it surprised me. I just couldn't get it out of my glove."

That made it 2-0 and Feldman made it stand up. His next start is scheduled for Friday in Kansas City. The Rangers have two days left before the Trade Deadline, so they could still shake up their pitching staff. But they also have a pitcher on a five-game winning streak.

"He will prepare for his next start," Washington said. "Let's leave it at that. You're seeing what I'm seeing. Let's leave it at that."

T.R. Sullivan is a reporter for MLB.com. 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.