Feldman goes six, but Rangers fall

Feldman goes six, but Rangers fall

CLEVELAND -- Scott Feldman keeps fulfilling the watered-down expectations for modern starting pitchers.

He keeps giving the Rangers innings and a chance to win. He just can't nail down the victory.

Feldman couldn't overcome one big hit, a three-run home run by Ben Francisco, and the Rangers had their three-game winning streak snapped with a 5-2 loss to the Indians on Saturday night at Progressive Field. The Rangers dropped back to one game under .500 with the loss, while the Indians snapped a seven-game losing streak.

The Rangers led, 2-0, early against red-hot Indians left-hander Cliff Lee, but Francisco put the Indians ahead with a three-run home run in the bottom of the third.

Feldman is now 1-2 with a 4.06 ERA in six starts. He has pitched at least six innings in all six starts, but the Rangers are just 1-5 in those games.

"I'm really disappointed," Feldman said. "I gave up five runs, and going against a pitcher like Cliff Lee, you're not going to get that many runs. We have a good offense, but he's a great pitcher. You can't give up five runs and expect to win."

Feldman also gave up five runs in six innings in his last start against the Twins. Again, it was a three-run home run by Alexi Casilla that did the most damage. Prior to that, Feldman had given the Rangers four straight quality starts, a huge boost for a rotation clobbered by injuries. Remember that Feldman had been converted from reliever to starter at the end of Spring Training and was supposed to be getting on-the-job training at Double-A Frisco, not the Major Leagues.

"He's still progressing," manager Ron Washington said. "He just had trouble with his command. He's still progressing, and he always finds a way to get into the sixth inning. He still has a ways to go, but once he gets his command together, he's going to be tough. Tonight, he had Cliff Lee. He had to be really, really, really good."

Rangers center fielder Josh Hamilton went 2-for-5 with two singles and now has at least two hits in eight straight games. That's one short of the club record set by Rusty Greer on June 17-27, 2000. Juan Gonzalez is the only other Rangers hitter to record eight straight multi-hit games. Hamilton is now hitting .337 on the year.

Both of Hamilton's hits came off Lee, who entered the game leading the American League with a 1.37 ERA but had to survive a rocky start to hang on and get the victory.

Lee allowed seven of the first 13 batters he faced reach base in two-plus innings but allowed just two runs to score.

"[Feldman's] still progressing. ... and he always finds a way to get into the sixth inning. He still has a ways to go, but once he gets his command together, he's going to be tough."
-- manager Ron Washington

"He's the same old Cliff Lee, he's just throwing with a lot of conviction and swagger," outfielder Marlon Byrd said. "He's pounding the strike zone with all his pitches. We had him early and let it slip away. That hasn't happened to this team lately. You got to get him early and get him out of his game. We didn't do that today."

The Rangers took a 1-0 lead in the first inning when Michael Young and Hamilton singled with one out and scored on David Murphy's two-out single. They made it 2-0 in the second, but came away wishing they could have scored more after Marlon Byrd led off with a double and Chris Shelton drew the first of three straight walks off Lee.

German Duran was unsuccessful on two attempts to bunt the runners over, then struck out swinging. Ian Kinsler singled home Byrd to make it 2-0 and Shelton moved to third. But Lee struck out Young and Hamilton lined out to end the threat.

"They've got a good lineup," Lee said. "They've got some good hitters over there, obviously. I made a few mistakes early, then I started to locate my pitches a little better."

Francisco got one run back for the Indians in the bottom of the second when he led off with a double and scored on Kinsler's error. He then got a chance for bigger things in the third inning.

Grady Sizemore led off with a walk, stole second and went to third on Casey Blake's fly ball to deep center. Feldman then hit Travis Hafner with a pitch, putting runners at the corners for Francisco. The outfielder worked the count to 2-2 before jumping on a sinker in the wrong place, crushing it deep over the left-field fence for a three-run home run.

"I completely missed my location," Feldman said. "I was trying to go down and away and missed middle in."

That gave the Indians a 4-2 lead. Jhonny Peralta added a home run in the sixth, but the Indians didn't need that. The Rangers managed just three singles after the second inning against Lee and relievers Rafael Perez and Joe Borowski.

T.R. Sullivan is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.