Young gives Rangers walk-off win
Texas tops Atlanta despite Wilson's struggles in ninth inning
ARLINGTON -- Jeff Francoeur is the bane of C.J. Wilson's existence.
For the second straight game, Wilson was unable to field an infield hit by Francoeur. It almost cost the Rangers again.
With runners on first and second base and one out in the ninth inning Thursday, Francoeur slapped a Wilson offering back through the box. The ball was headed to Wilson's right and may have turned into a game-ending double play. Instead, Wilson deflected it, and Texas' two-run lead was cut to one, and the tying run was on third.
"The ball hit the tip of my glove, just enough for me not to field it," Wilson said. "If I get that, I get the out and they don't score. My job is to go out there and get three outs, and I didn't do that today."
The tying run came in, too, which sent the game to the bottom of the ninth. But Francoeur got his in the end.
With Ian Kinsler on second and one out in the bottom of the inning, Michael Young sent a ground-ball single to Francoeur in right field. Francoeur, capable of throwing a runner out at home from right, couldn't cleanly come up with the ball, and Kinsler scored to give Texas a 5-4 victory Thursday afternoon at Rangers Ballpark in Arlington, completing the Rangers' 11th come-from-behind win this season.
"We had the right guy up there at the right time, and he delivered," Texas manager Ron Washington said. "Every time he walks up there, you know something is bound to happen."
However, Young hadn't been making much happen until that at-bat. Young had just two hits in 35 at-bats leading up to his game-winning single. But, with it, the Rangers (37-37) buoyed back up to the .500 mark and improved to 8-15 in day games.
Texas also earned its first victory in a game started by Scott Feldman since May 9. The Rangers had been 1-8 in games he started. However, with Wilson's ninth-inning struggles, Feldman received a no-decision.
For all but two innings, Feldman virtually was untouchable. Feldman, who four times faced the minimum, allowed two runs on five hits and three walks in seven innings while striking out four. He retired nine of 10 batters over three shutout innings before exiting.
"I think everything was better as the game progressed," Feldman said. "My sinker was better and I had better command. My next time out, I need to pitch like that from the get-go."
But after the get-go Thursday, it looked like Feldman might be saddled with another loss. He allowed runs in the third and fourth while the offense showed few signs of life. Atlanta starter Charlie Morton needed only eight pitches to get out of the first. In the third, Young grounded out to shortstop to end the inning with Kinsler on third base. The next inning, Brandon Boggs did the same with Josh Hamilton on third.
From there, though, Young and Boggs turned it around.
Young stepped to the plate in the fifth with the bags full and one out, and he sent a sacrifice fly to right field to cut the deficit to 2-1. Boggs got his chance for redemption the next inning.
Texas had runners on first and second with no outs, and all Washington wanted from Boggs was a sacrifice bunt to move both into scoring position. However, Boggs was unable to get a bunt down in two tries. So, he brought everybody home with a home run down the left-field line off Atlanta reliever Jeff Ridgway.
"I kind of took the bunt off myself by botching my first two tries," Boggs said. "The next pitch, he left a slider up."
Boggs' three-run dinger turned a one-run deficit into a 4-2 advantage, and it looked as though Feldman might get that second elusive win.
"Sometimes when you try to do the right thing, you get rewarded," Washington said. "We tried moving the runners over, and it didn't work, but then we were rewarded with a three-run bomb."
A victory for Feldman inched closer as Eddie Guardado won a 15-pitch battle with Gregor Blanco and sat down the Braves in order in the eighth. Then Washington called on Wilson for the third straight day.
Wilson walked Mark Teixeira to start the inning, and almost instantly, Jamey Wright began warming up in the Texas bullpen. A strikeout, double and Francoeur's infield single later, and Washington turned to Wright.
Wright allowed a sacrifice fly that scored the tying run, but he got out of the inning and earned the victory thanks to Young's RBI in the bottom of the frame.
Despite Wilson's struggles against the Braves -- his throwing error on a ball hit by Francoeur led to a three-run inning on Wednesday night -- Washington said he still is his closer.
"I haven't thought about that yet," Washington said. "If something needs to be done, we'll do something. But right now, if it's the ninth inning, I'm going to C.J."
Wilson is just trying to stay positive.
"I'm still confident," Wilson said. "I know I'll be able to look back at this later in my career and be able to laugh about it."
Shawn Shroyer is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.