Tepesch has second tough outing in a row

CHICAGO -- The Texas Rangers’ pitching is the main reason they entered Monday evening tied for the best record in baseball. That didn't hold against the Chicago Cubs, however, as rookie Nick Tepesch got roughed up for the second straight game.

“He just didn’t have his sinker. He usually has a good sinker working, but he just didn’t have it tonight,” Rangers manager Ron Washington said after the 9-2 loss dropped Texas to 20-12. “The breaking ball was a little inconsistent. He was trying to get his fastball inside; he just couldn’t get it on the plate.”

Tepesch lasted four innings, giving up six runs (five earned) on six hits and four walks, while striking out four.

His unraveling came in the fourth, when he quickly got two outs, but allowed a double to Luis Valbuena and intentionally walked Darwin Barney to get to former Rangers pitcher Scott Feldman. Feldman fell behind 0-2, but managed to stay alive long enough to drive a fastball into the left-center gap to knock in a run and put the Cubs ahead, 2-0.

“I was just trying to get a hit,” Feldman said. “Trying to put some runs on the board or at least be a tough out or something like that. But anybody would do that -- walk a big league hitter to get to a pitcher. Luckily, I was just able to find a hole there.”

Chicago tacked on four more runs in the inning on a pair of two-RBI singles by Starlin Castro and Anthony Rizzo, making it the team’s highest scoring frame of the season.

Washington visited the mound prior to Feldman’s at-bat to explain the situation to Tepesch and remind him that despite being a pitcher, Feldman could still handle the bat.

It’s now been back-to-back tough outings for Tepesch, who gave up five earned runs in 6 2/3 innings last Wednesday in a 5-2 loss to the Chicago White Sox.

“(A speed bump is) all it is,” said Washington. “Rookies don’t only have them. Every pitcher that ever steps on that rubber has them.”

Feldman, on the other hand, has strung together some great starts for the Cubs, following up last week’s complete game with another gem. Feldman’s seven shutout innings dropped his ERA to 2.70 on the season. He came out for the eighth inning, but he left after only two pitches due to an apparent hand cramp.

“He can have some good stuff and he looked like he was on his way to finishing the eighth inning,” Washington said of Feldman. “But it just didn’t happen. I don’t know if he came up with a cramp or he hurt something or what. He was good tonight.

“As far as our offense was concerned, we couldn’t do anything with him.”

Feldman spent his first eight seasons in Texas before signing with the Cubs as a free agent this past offseason.

“I tried to just relax out there and everything,” Feldman said. “But obviously I know a lot of those guys and have a lot of respect for them. I had a great [eight] years over there and made some good friends.”

“When we’re not playing against them,” he said, “I hope they do good. But a night like tonight, I definitely want to try and get them out.”