Sharp pitching helps Rangers hold off YankeesJul 1, 2008 - 5:47 AM Texas Rangers have spent most of the last month hovering around .500 due to their offense. On Monday, they went two games over for the first time under manager Ron Washington, and their pitching was responsible.
Scott Feldman pitched 5 2/3 solid innings for his first win in over a month and combined with three relievers to allow just four hits as the Rangers held off the New York Yankees, 2-1, in the opener of a three-game series.
Josh Hamilton picked up his major league-leading 80th RBI and rookie Chris Davis had a run-scoring double for Texas, which entered one game over .500 for the seventh time this season.
"That's what you like to see," Washington said. "When you get some pitching, there's quite a few things that can happen for you, you keep the defense on their toes and it usually works out."
The Rangers (43-41) have failed in all seven of their previous attempts to go two over and have been at the break-even mark 22 times this season. They avoided a 23rd time and moved two games over for the first time since September 22, 2006.
"I think games like this where we just played good defense, pitched and got timely hitting, we're capable of doing that and I think if we keep playing like this, we'll string together a good stretch and get over .500 by more than two games," Feldman said. "We definitely have the talent and the desire to do it and I think that's everybody's goal here."
"That's the goal all the time," Texas left fielder David Murphy added. "When we've been asked about going over the .500 mark the past few weeks or so. My answer if we knew how to get way above, we'd be there.
"So, it's a process, and I think we played great the last two games and, if we can keep that up, one of these days we're going to look up and we're going to be five, 10 games above .500 and we're going to start gaining a lot of ground."
A big reason for that has been a pitching staff that entered the final series at Yankee Stadium with the highest ERA in the American League at 4.89. That mark had been lowered from 5.11 by the recent performance of the staff, which has posted a 3.46 ERA in the the last 13 games.
That has countered an offense that entered tied with the Boston Red Sox for the American League's best batting average at .280 and one that has scored a major league-best 456 runs.
Texas did not generate much off Mike Mussina (10-6) and needed Feldman to pitch decently. Feldman (2-3), who is in his first year as a starting pitcher, did just that, allowing just Alex Rodriguez's mammoth homer in the fourth.
It resulted in Feldman's first win in nine starts, dating to a 4-0 blanking against Oakland on May 9. It also was his first career road win after he had entered 0-3 with a 6.91 ERA away from home this season.
"It's awesome to come into Yankee Stadium and win a game like that," Feldman said. "I'd have liked to have my pitch count lower and stay in the game longer but the guys in the bullpen, Frankie and Jamey and C.J. really shut the door and our defense played great, and we got some clutch hitting and two runs was enough tonight."
In this one, he walked Bobby Abreu, Rodriguez and Jason Giambi over the first three innings but each time left them stranded. Abreu was caught stealing second to end the first while Rodriguez and Giambi were left on when Melky Cabrera grounded out in the second.
Feldman could not prevent Rodriguez from hitting his 16th home run, a blast that went into Monument Park. The homer was the 534th of his career - tying him with Jimmie Foxx for 14th on the all-time home run list.
Feldman appeared to be on the ropes when Jorge Posada ripped a two-out double, but Robinson Cano grounded out to end the fourth.
The 25-year-old righthander's night ended with two outs in the sixth when Giambi hit his first triple since July 7, 2002. Frank Francisco finished the sixth by fanning Posada and also worked a perfect seventh.
Eddie Guardado came on for the eighth but injured his left shoulder warming up and was replaced by Jamey Wright, who tossed a perfect eighth. C.J. Wilson did the same in the ninth for his 18th save in 20 opportunities, finishing off Texas' eighth win in 30 games when scoring three runs or fewer.
"They're doing awesome right now," Washington said of the bullpen. "Our starters are giving us good games and that helps everything fall in line."
Mussina allowed two runs and five hits over six innings and dropped his second straight start. The veteran righthander also lost to Texas for the first time in 10 starts, dating to August 7, 2003.
"It was probably the right thing to do to go six," Mussina said. "It's just too bad we couldn't scratch out a few more runs."
Mussina fell behind in the third when Ian Kinsler extended his hitting streak to 13 games with a double to right. Two batters later, he scored when Hamilton singled to right-center field, becoming the third Ranger to reach 80 RBI before the All-Star break.
Texas took a 2-0 lead in the fourth when Murphy walked and took second on Marlon Byrd's grounder. Murphy scored when Davis lined a double to right-center field.
The Yankees did not have a hit after three but made it a one-run game when Rodriguez crushed a hanging breaking ball.
Other than that, there were little highlights for the Yankees, who have scored four runs in their last three games and have lost six of their last 10 contests.
"You always think our offense is going to score more than one run," New York manager Joe Girardi said. "I thought our guys had good at-bats, but it didn't really produce much."
1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 R H E
- - - - - - - - - - - -
TEXAS 0 0 1 1 0 0 0 0 0 2 7 0
NY YANKEES 0 0 0 1 0 0 0 0 0 1 4 0 (FINAL)
BATTERIES: TEX - SCOTT FELDMAN, FRANK FRANCISCO (6TH), EDDIE GUARDADO (8TH),
JAMEY WRIGHT (8TH), C.J. WILSON (9TH) AND JARROD
NYY - MIKE MUSSINA, EDWAR RAMIREZ
Jun 30 10:12 PM
AT NY YANKEES - SCORING UPDATE
SOLO HOME RUN BY ALEX RODRIGUEZ (16) TO LEFT WITH 1 OUT IN
THE 4TH OFF SCOTT FELDMAN.
CURRENT SCORE: TEXAS 2, NY YANKEES 1
DUE UP FOR NY YANKEES: J GIAMBI (.262, 0-FOR-0, BB)
Rangers 2, Yankees 1 Bot 4, 0 OutsJun 30 8:27 PM
AT NY YANKEES - SCORING UPDATE
DOUBLE BY CHRIS DAVIS SCORED DAVID MURPHY.
SITUATION: 1 RUN IN, C DAVIS ON SECOND, 1 OUT
CURRENT SCORE: TEXAS 2
NY YANKEES 0 TOP, 4TH
DUE UP FOR TEXAS: J SALTALAMACCHIA (.212, 0-FOR-1)
Rangers 2, Yankees 0 Top 4, 0 OutsJun 30 8:18 PM
AT NY YANKEES - SCORING UPDATE
SINGLE BY JOSH HAMILTON SCORED IAN KINSLER.
SITUATION: 1 RUN IN, J HAMILTON ON FIRST, 2 OUT
CURRENT SCORE: TEXAS 1
NY YANKEES 0 TOP, 3RD
DUE UP FOR TEXAS: M BRADLEY (.322, 0-FOR-1)
Rangers 1, Yankees 0 Top 3, 0 OutsJun 30 8:00 PM
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