HOUSTON --The Texas Rangers got a gutty and sloppy pitching effort from Neftali Feliz and some timely hitting to beat the Houston Astros, 4-1, in Game 1 of the Silver Boot series at Minute Maid Park on Friday night.
How it happened: It wasn't the best night for Feliz, but the Rangers bats helped him out early. Adrian Beltre drove in the first of his two runs with a sacrifice fly to center to bring in Ian Kinsler for the first run of the game in the third inning. Nelson Cruz added to the lead with an RBI single to center. In the fifth, the Rangers added one more run on an RBI double by Michael Young, who seems to have broken out of his slump with two hits and a walk. Beltre closed the deal with a solo shot to left field, that if not for that wall in left center, might have landed in Huntsville.
Long night for Feliz: Feliz was chastized by the manager, walked the No. 8 and No. 9 hitters and threw 84 pitches through four innings. When the Rangers starter's night was done, he had thrown 101 pitches in 4 2/3 innings and for a no-decision. Feliz battled trouble all night and couldn't control his fastball. he walked five, hit one batter and allowed just one run on three hits. He also struck out six. Feliz drew the ire of manager Ron Washington in the fourth inning when he walked pitcher Wandy Rodriguez with two outs. Washington jogged to the mound and after a one-sided conversation, headed back to the dugout. Feliz then struck out Jordan Schafer on three pitches. But Washington had seen enough to pull Feliz in the fifth after two more walks sandwiched around two outs. Rookie Robbie Ross retired Brian Bogusevic on a fielder's choice to end the inning. With Feliz out, Ross became the pitcher of record.
Young gets a hit: It's been a tough stretch for Young. He finished the Rangers' seven-game homestand with just four hits in 27 at-bats. He was hitless in his last 11 at-bats until a second-inning single to center ended the string. For the night, Young went 2-for-3 with a walk, a double and an RBI. Before the game, Washington said Young will stay in the lineup and he felt his veteran utility man would break out of his slump. He was right and don't expect Young to sit tomorrow against a right-hander, Lucas Harrell, for Mitch Moreland.
Beltre on a tear: Third baseman Beltre has reached base in his last nine games. Friday night he went 2-for-3 with his eighth home run of the season, a blast to left center. Beltre is 12-for-46 during the last nine games with two doubles and two home runs. In the last 21 games, Beltre has six home runs, five doubles and 18 RBIs.
Joe Nathan gets the save: For the first time since 2009, closer Nathan pitched for a fourth consecutive game. Nathan, who picked up his ninth save, had uneventful ninth inning, including a strikeout to end the game. He has two saves in his last four outings and hasn't allowed a run since May 13. Sept. 13-16, Nathan went four consecutive games for the Minnesota Twins, registering three saves during that time.
Notes: Rangers fans were in full force at Minute Maid Park on Friday night. There was a "Let's Go Rangers" chant in the eighth inning. ... Rangers are now 136-131 all-time in interleague play. ... Rangers are 62-72 in NL parks. ... When Feliz pitches, the Rangers normally do well, they're 5-2 in his starts in 2012. ... Friday night was the Rangers' 14th series of the 2012 season which marked the 14th different opponent. When the Rangers begin a three-game set at Seattle on Monday, it will be the first time they've seen an opponent a second time. ... Yu Darvish will speak with reporters Saturday afternoon. ... With Mike Adams unavailable, Koji Uehara took his spot as the setup man in the eighth. He struck out one in a scoreless inning. ... Kinsler was knocked down by a pitch that sailed over his head in the ninth inning by reliever Rhiner Cruz. Kinsler flew out to deep left field and when he got back to the dugout, slammed his helmet into a cubbie hole. Cruz then hit the next batter, Elvis Andrus, who promptly stole second. ... Josh Hamilton, who had a 16-game hitting streak snapped Thursday afternoon, began a new one with a single in the third.
Next: Rangers-Astros play Game 2 of the Silver Boot series at Minute Maid Park. Derek Holland takes on Lucas Harrell at 6:15 p.m.