Homers get Rangers close, but not close enough

Homers get Rangers close, but not close enough

Homers get Rangers close, but not close enough
ARLINGTON -- When Scott Feldman struck out the side in the fourth inning, it seemed as though he was cruising to another win.

Instead, the Rangers' right-hander gave up four runs in the fifth and suffered his third straight loss. Ian Kinsler's solo home run in the third and Geovany Soto's two-run homer in the seventh weren't enough as the Rangers fell to the Orioles, 5-3, at Rangers Ballpark in Arlington.

"I felt great. Even in the fifth, I felt great," Feldman said. "I just couldn't get that final out. I felt like I was so close to limiting the damage there, and that's all you're trying to do in that situation. Whether it was a matter of location or pitch selection, a couple different at-bats are going to stick with me tonight."

Feldman became the second player in Major League history to win six straight decisions after losing at least six in a row to begin a season since Doyle Alexander did it in 1983, when he played for the Yankees and Blue Jays, going from 0-8 to 7-8. Feldman went from 0-6 to 6-6 but fell to 6-9 after giving up five runs on seven hits in seven innings on Tuesday. He fanned Adam Jones, Matt Wieters and Chris Davis in the fourth, but he could not keep the Orioles from breaking the game open in the fifth.

Manny Machado drove an RBI triple over Josh Hamilton's head in center field to break a 1-1 tie in that inning and scored on J.J. Hardy's RBI double two batters later before Nate McLouth, who walked and scored on a wild pitch in the first, blasted his first big league home run this year, a two-run shot to right.

"I think if there was one pitch in that inning that he'd want back, it's that one to McLouth," manager Ron Washington said. "Machado fought for that at-bat and got a triple out of it. I thought he made a really good pitch to Hardy. He went down there and poked a pitch to right field. Other than that, there was no indication that they were going to put four runs on the board."

McLouth hit 10 homers in 47 games with Triple-A Norfolk this year, but had not homered in a Major League game since last July, when he was playing for the Braves. But he sent a 1-1 cutter from Feldman 393 feet over the right-field wall to give the Orioles a 5-1 lead in the fifth.

"I just made a bad pitch to McLouth," Feldman said. "I had [Hardy] down 1-2, I think I just gave him something a little too good to hit there. It's just a frustrating part of baseball. Sometimes you can throw the ball where you want and guys can still put the bat on the ball and get a base hit."

Like his previous two losses, Feldman did not get much run support. The Rangers scored twice in each of Feldman's last two starts as he left Tuesday's game trailing, 5-1. Kinsler, who had three hits in his last 36 at-bats before Tuesday, hit a game-tying home run with two outs in the third inning, his 14th of the year.

The Rangers nearly erased the deficit in the seventh. Soto hit his second home run since joining the Rangers three weeks ago, a two-run shot over the left-field wall with one out in the inning. Kinsler drew a two-out walk two batters later and Elvis Andrus singled to put two men on base for Josh Hamilton. Hamilton drove a full-count offering from former Rangers reliever Pedro Strop into the upper deck of the seats just right of the right-field foul pole before striking out on the next pitch.

"It was a good battle. Pedro won it," Washington said. "He threw one and left it up. Hamilton got around on it and missed it by a hair, pulled it foul. If he stayed through the inside part of that ball just a little more, we win that ballgame."

Strop posted a 7.24 ERA in 33 appearances with the Rangers over three seasons, striking out 27 and walking 22 in 27 1/3 innings. In two years with the Orioles, Strop has gone 6-2 with a 1.35 ERA and two saves in 65 outings. After nearly giving up a go-ahead homer, he got out of a seventh-inning jam by getting Hamilton to chase a full-count splitter that would have likely been ball four had he not swung.

"I didn't want to throw it for a strike," Strop said. "When I heard the sound off the bat, I thought he got me. Then I saw that it was going foul."

With the loss, the Rangers had their three-game winning streak snapped and their lead in the American League West cut to five games over the A's, who beat Minnesota on Tuesday.

"We're in a pretty good spot," Murphy said. "If you're five or six games up with 40 to play, that's a pretty good lead. By no means are we thinking that we've got a lock on the postseason. We know we've got to put our heads down and grind it out."

Christian Corona is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.