Feldman's string of strong starts continues

CHICAGO -- The Chicago Cubs have not had much to brag about through the first 32 games of the season, but excellent starting pitching has been one major area to be proud of for this rebuilding franchise.

Chicago carried a 3.30 ERA by the rotation pitchers into Monday’s makeup game against the Texas Rangers, which the Cubs won 9-2. Scott Feldman helped lower that ERA with another strong performance in a start which had special meaning coming against his former team.

“I tried to relax out there and everything but obviously I know a lot of those guys,” Feldman said. “I have a lot of respect for them and I had a great seven or eight years over there while I made some good friends. When we aren’t playing against them, I want them to do good. A night like tonight I definitely wanted to get them out.”

Feldman was coming off his most dominant major league start last week. The 30-year-old veteran threw the first complete game of his career while setting a personal high with 12 strikeouts against San Diego on May 1.

Showing the same command he had against San Diego, Feldman allowed just two hits in seven innings Monday. He left the game with a cramp in his pitching hand with a two-ball count on the first hitter of the inning.

“I definitely had a lot of pitches anyway,” Feldman said when asked about the chance of throwing another complete game. “My last warm-up pitch, my finger was getting stuck. After the last one I knew it just wasn’t going to work.”

Previously playing his entire 10-year professional career in the Rangers organization, Feldman had little chance to swing the bat. Now he has two RBI base hits in his last two starts. Feldman’s single off Texas starter Nick Tepesch in the Cubs’ five-run fourth inning Monday brought home Luis Valbuena.

“I was just looking to see the ball and put a good swing on it,” Feldman said. “Luckily I was able to find a hole there.”

After signing a one year deal with the Cubs that included a promise of a chance to start, Feldman is showing signs of getting back to the form that helped him win a career-high 17 games in 2009. He is 3-1 with a 1.63 ERA over his last four starts.

“He was really, really good again,” Cubs manager Dale Sveum said. “That is four good outings in a row. Tonight that was against a really good team. That cutter -- he really has the feel for that thing and it is impressive.”