Williams starts, Feliz finishes win over A's

Veteran goes six in Texas debut; closer earns first save since 2011

Williams starts, Feliz finishes win over A's

ARLINGTON -- So many times this season, the injury-riddled Rangers have needed a break -- a big win in the midst of a losing stretch, an outing in which both the pitching and the hitting came together on the same page.

On Friday night the Rangers got both of those. They got their break -- and with a 4-1 win against the A's, they got it against the league's most dominant team.

"Tonight we were able to do what we needed to do when we created some opportunities for ourselves," Rangers manager Ron Washington said. "We just have to continue to do that. Take advantage of what we create."

And though the offensive opportunities were plentiful -- leading to a run in the second, third and two in the sixth -- it was the pitching that kept the Rangers in command of what became their first home victory in nine tries.

It started with right-hander Jerome Williams, who set the tone early in his Rangers debut when he retired 11 straight batters following a one-out double in the second.

Williams' contract was purchased Friday from Triple-A Round Rock. The Astros released him July 8, and he started in place of Nick Tepesch Friday, who got an extra day of rest.

Washington had told Williams before the game's begin to not treat this start as a temporary fix. Instead, this was an opportunity.

Williams seized it, throwing six innings of one-run ball with five hits and four strikeouts. He commanded all four of his pitches, and didn't walk anyone.

"He gave us an outstanding job, he really did," Washington said. "I'll take six innings every night with one run. He did it. He was changing speeds, was moving the ball around … He really did a good job."

Williams, who donned a hot pink glove to honor his mother, who passed away in 2001 of breast cancer, said that getting through the sixth inning was crucial.

He's still getting used to the heat and the fatigue that comes with it, now that he's no longer inside the climate-control ballpark that the Astros play in -- Minute Maid Park.

"I wanted to finish [the sixth inning] no matter what," Williams said. "I felt strong, I felt fine out there … so I came out and finished it."

After Williams, Rangers relievers Roman Mendez, Ryan Feierabend, Neal Cotts and Neftali Feliz all combined to give up just two hits.

Feliz took over the closing duties for the first time since 2011 when the Rangers played St. Louis in the World Series. Since then, he's had Tommy John surgery in 2012 and has worked tirelessly to be the pitcher he once was.

Feliz didn't record a single strikeout in the ninth inning. Instead he got the job done with two flyouts and a groundout on which he sprinted to first base to complete.

Feliz earned his first save since Game 5 of the World Series on October 24, 2011, and it had sent the 35,582 fans in attendance into a frenzy.

"The emotions the fans gave me, I like to feel them," Feliz said. "Feeling the fans roaring for me to finish the game, I enjoy it."

The team with the lowest winning percentage in the league had defeated the team with the highest.

The music in the locker room bounced in the background, as highlights from the victory lit up the television above Elvis Andrus' locker.

"It's pretty big, especially starting the homestand," Andrus said. "We haven't played good baseball at home and for us to step up and … have a solid game today, it's going to help us a lot."

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