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08/03/09 12:01 AM ET

Feldman makes gamble pay off

Rangers righty holds down Mariners on short rest

ARLINGTON -- Scott Feldman looked about as bad as a pitcher could in a loss to the Tigers on Wednesday.

So what's a manager to do? Ron Washington decided to start Feldman on short rest on Sunday.

"It wasn't something I was concerned about," Feldman said. "It was like pitching on regular rest. I liked the idea of coming back quicker. It got the taste out of my mouth."

The plan worked, as Feldman allowed two earned runs over seven innings. He faced four over the minimum over seven innings, helping the Rangers win, 4-2, over the Mariners at Rangers Ballpark in Arlington.

He was coming off an outing when he allowed six earned runs over 2 1/3 innings. Feldman came back one day earlier than normal because he threw only 71 pitches in that game.

His strong performance keeps them four games behind the Angels in the American League West and 2 1/2 games behind the Red Sox in the Wild Card race.

Their 59-44 record is the second best in franchise history over the team's first 103 games.

"Feldman did a good job bouncing back," Washington said. "[His sinker] was working pretty well. He's a ground-ball pitcher. If batters aren't squaring it up, that's how you know he's pitching well.

"He wasn't getting enough ground balls [in his last outing]. If you take the ball 16, 17, 18 times, that happens. He went out there and he gave us an opportunity to get to our two best pitchers."

Sunday was Feldman's 10th win of the season, which extends his career high and gives him the lead on the team. He is tied with Rangers ace Kevin Millwood with 13 quality starts.

Feldman is 9-1 with a 2.60 ERA in his quality starts.

He has made 19 starts for the Rangers after starting this season in the bullpen. He has a 10-4 record with a 3.42 ERA in those games. The Rangers are 13-6 in Feldman's starts this season.

"I thought Feldman was awfully tough," said Mariners manager Don Wakamatsu. "I have seen this kid and he gets better every year. I think you have to tip your hat. He just didn't throw anything over the center of the plate and kept our hitters off balance."

Frank Francisco, activated off the disabled list earlier in the day, pitched a perfect eighth to the pleasure of Washington.

"He looked outstanding," Washington said. "One-two-three inning. He used his pitches. We're happy to have him back."

Closer C.J. Wilson ran into a little bit of trouble in the ninth, hitting Russell Branyan to lead off the inning and allowing a single to Jose Lopez.

A groundout advanced the runners a base, but Wilson responded by striking out the next two hitters to secure his 13th save of the season. He is perfect in save opportunities over his last six appearances.

Wilson has racked up 17 strikeouts over his last seven appearances.

Washington said there is no timetable for Francisco to replace Wilson as the closer as Francisco, who hadn't pitched since July 10, rounds himself into shape.

David Murphy gave the Rangers a 1-0 lead in the bottom of the first with a home run.

That gave the Rangers home runs in 11 consecutive games, a new season high. It ranks fifth in the American League this season behind the Yankees, Tigers, Red Sox and Rays, who all are tied for the lead with 12.

This is also the longest streak since the Rangers homered in 11 straight games from May 22-June 2, 2006.

Feldman ran into a bit of trouble in the sixth inning. He gave up two singles and a walk to load the bases with no outs. Feldman gave up an RBI groundout and an RBI single that gave the Mariners a 2-1 lead. He induced a double play from Ken Griffey Jr. to end the inning.

That was one of three double plays the Mariners grounded into off him.

Michael Young tied the game at 2 with a home run in the bottom of the sixth.

"It was something offspeed, up in the zone," he said. "I didn't hit it in the right part and I caught a break it bounced off the wall."

Young has now hit safely in nine consecutive games and in 15 of 16 games since the All-Star break. His batting average over that time span is .417 (25-for-60).

Jarrod Saltalamacchia provided the difference with a two-run home run that bounced off the right-field foul pole in the bottom of the seventh. He has now homered in three of his last seven games at home.

The Rangers are 36-12 this season when they hit multiple home runs. They lead the Major Leagues with 159.

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