Josh Hamilton hit his 14th home run of the year, and Justin Smoak, batting as high as the fifth spot for the first time with the Rangers, had a two-run double in the first. The Rangers have now won eight of their last 12 games as they maintain possession of first place in the American League West.
But this victory wasn't secure until Rangers reliever Chris Ray, with two on and two out, put an end to the Brewers' ninth-inning rally by getting Prince Fielder to fly out to left to end the game. The Brewers got two runs off Neftali Feliz in that inning before Ray squashed their threat.
"Good times," third baseman Michael Young said. "We played well tonight. Feldman threw the ball really well. The ninth inning was interesting, but when we have Neftali on the mound, we still feel totally confident in him."
The Brewers left nine runners on base by going 2-for-14 with runners in scoring position. Both hits came after the Rangers took a 4-0 lead into the bottom of the eighth.
"Pretty frustrating loss," Brewers manager Ken Macha said. "We had the leadoff man five times on base and only one of those guys scored. That doesn't happen very often. Then we had those guys in scoring position in seven innings, and we scored three runs. Nine left on base. So, it's a little bit of a frustrating loss. It's frustrating leaving guys on base, having that many opportunities."
Young was 1-for-4 with an infield single in the first inning. That was his 1,745th career hit, leaving him two short of the Rangers' all-time record of 1,747 held by Ivan Rodriguez.
This night still belonged to Feldman, even though the Brewers almost took it away from him in the ninth. But he was as tough in clutch situations as Ray was in the nerve-racking ninth inning. Ray got the big outs in the ninth while Feldman was getting them early.
"Feldman battled his tail off," manager Ron Washington said. "He just kept battling the whole night until we had to take him out."
When he was done, Feldman had allowed four hits, three walks and a hit batter while throwing 105 pitches. Striking out a season-high six batters helped, as Feldman marked the first time in 13 starts this season that he has had a scoreless outing. He is now 4-6 with a 5.28 ERA, his lowest since the end of April.
"This is just one game," Feldman said. "Hopefully I can keep building on each start, keep getting better and keep it going. It's nice to finally get a win."
He started the first inning by hitting Rickie Weeks and walking Corey Hart. But Fielder grounded out to second, and Ryan Braun bounced one at shortstop Elvis Andrus for an inning-ending double play.
The Brewers loaded the bases with two outs in the second on an infield hit and two walks before Feldman retired Weeks on a grounder to second. Braun's two-out double in the third led to nothing because Andrus made a nice stop on a one-hop smash by Casey McGehee.
"The first two innings were a battle getting through that," Feldman said. "We made some big plays. From there, I started to settle down and didn't have to throw quite as many pitches. It's nice to work out of those situations. That's been kind of a struggle for me."
Jim Edmonds doubled to lead off the fourth, but Feldman got Jonathan Lucroy on a weak grounder to first, Yunil Escobar on a weak grounder to the mound and Manny Parra on a strikeout to end the inning. Weeks doubled to lead off the fifth, then tried to steal third and was cut down by catcher Matt Treanor.
The Brewers were 0-for-7 with runners in scoring position off Feldman. He retired the side in order in the sixth, although the inning started with right fielder David Murphy running down and making a nice catch on Braun's line-drive down the line.
"They have a very dangerous lineup," Feldman said. "I just tried to keep a good mix and get the ball down. I threw some good changeups tonight and had a really good feel for my breaking ball. But the biggest thing was just keeping the ball down."