Rangers use early uprising to beat O's
Cruz, Guerrero both homer, Feldman earns victory
ARLINGTON -- The Rangers really needed Scott Feldman to make the minimum, even if he had to stagger, stutter, stumble and struggle to get there. What pitcher didn't in this long and ponderous game?The point is, Feldman did get through six innings and, despite giving up 12 hits, did get a victory without further depleting a bullpen that is already logging a serious number of innings. The Rangers' own offensive muscle -- led by Nelson Cruz -- had something to do with it as well as they over-powered the Baltimore Orioles with a 13-7 victory on Thursday night at the Ballpark in Arlington. Texas had a season-high 20 hits, including four by Cruz. He jump-started the Rangers with a three-run home run in the first, and they have now won four straight to open up a four-game lead over the Athletics in the American League West. Feldman snapped his own personal four-game losing streak in winning for the first time since April 11 against the Mariners. The Rangers were 1-5 in his previous six starts. "We got Feldman a win," manager Ron Washington said. "He battled ... he had to battle. They kept coming at him and he kept fighting them off. He got it done." But this one was still in doubt until Matt Treanor finished off the Texas' five-run eighth inning with a three-run home run. That gave the Rangers a 13-5 lead, but they still had to call upon Neftali Feliz to get the final out in the ninth before the victory was secure. "I gave up a lot of hits but fortunately we swung the bats really well," Feldman said. "This was all about the offense putting up runs." The two teams combined for 44 baserunners and 24 were left on base. The Rangers were 9-for-20 with runners in scoring position while the Orioles were 4-for-20. "Honestly, I don't know if that was easy," Kinsler said. "That was rough. A lot of hits, a lot of running around, not a lot of sitting. That was a tough one." Feldman was on the verge of an early night several times but was able to constantly dodge a knockout blow. By doing so, he became the team's first starter in five games to last at least six innings. In fact, he was the first to do it since he went 7 1/3 innings in a 6-0 loss to Toronto on Sunday. "I'd rather have gone seven, eight, nine innings tonight," Feldman said. "The bullpen has been used a lot lately. I'd liked to have gone longer but my pitch count got me. But six innings is better than five or four." Rangers starters are now averaging 5.8 innings per game and, with the help of some extra-innings games, their relievers lead the American League in innings pitched. Ideally, the Rangers would like their starters to average at least six innings per game. Going into Wednesday's game, there were eight AL rotations doing that. The Rays led the way with a rotation averaging 6.5 innings per start. Last year, Texas starters pitched 949.67 innings, or 5.86 innings per start, their most since 1998. They haven't averaged six innings per start since the 1996 division title. The Rangers and the Royals are the only AL teams since 2000 that haven't had their starters average at least six innings a start over the course of one season. Washington admitted the Rangers were trying hard to get Feldman through six innings on Thursday. "We were trying to push him there, without a doubt," Washington said. Feldman did well to get through six. The 12 hits were the most given up by a Rangers starter this year -- Feldman allowed 10 against Oakland on May 4 -- and the most by a starting pitcher in the Majors this season who still hung around long enough to get the win. "They just worked him good," Washington said. "He had a good breaking ball, a good changeup and at times a good sinker. He just couldn't keep it all together consistently. But he battled hard. I thought that was a step forward for him." The Rangers gave him a 4-0 lead on an RBI single by Ian Kinsler and Cruz's three-run home run. But Feldman, in the top of the second, gave up four straight one-out hits that brought home three runs. Feldman was only to get out of the inning with the lead by getting Nick Markakis on a grounder to first and Miguel Tejada on a liner to center. The Rangers had an 8-3 lead going into the top of the fifth and Feldman only needed three outs to be in position to get the win. That almost didn't happen. Tejada and Luke Scott led off with doubles, making it 8-4, and a single by Matt Wieters put runners at the corners with none out. The Rangers had Dustin Nippert warming up in the bullpen but Feldman escaped further damage. Adam Jones flied out to shallow right, Luis Montanez popped out and Feldman struck out Cesar Izturis to end the inning. "I felt like I was in jams all night," Feldman said. "I had a lot of runners on base but those two innings were big in being able to limit the damage."
T.R. Sullivan is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.