ARLINGTON (AP) – Josh Hamilton hit a towering home run and Scott Feldman threw six scoreless innings in a spot start for the AL West-leading Texas Rangers in a 2-0 victory over the Tampa Bay Rays on Tuesday night.
Hamilton hit the first pitch of the sixth inning thrown by rookie right-hander Jeremy Hellickson (11-10) deep into a second deck of seats in right field. It landed an estimated 449 feet from home plate, his 19th homer, and broke a scoreless tie.
Michael Young followed with a double and scored on a single by David Murphy.
Feldman (1-0) allowed only two hits before Mark Lowe, Darren Oliver, Mike Adams combined for two no-hit innings to set up Neftali Feliz for his 26th save in 32 chances. It was the Rangers’ 16th shutout this season.
The Rays, held scoreless for the 13th time this season, hit only four balls out of the infield, two in the ninth off Feliz, who got out of the jam when Evan Longoria grounded into a game-ending double play.
Feldman struck out four with one walk while starting in place of Matt Harrison. The Rangers skipped the 10-game winner just to give him a break, though the left-hander is expected to make his next scheduled start Sunday at Boston.
The Rangers may want to find another start for Feldman, who won 17 games in 2009 and was their opening day starter last season after getting a new contract. The right-hander had microfracture surgery on his right knee last November, and made seven relief appearance since July 22 before getting a chance to start this season.
Against Feldman, the only balls Tampa Bay got out of the infield were two singles. There were 12 groundouts, four strikeouts and two runners caught stealing in the 18 outs recorded while he was on the mound.
The Rays had hit 10 homers in their previous series against Toronto, a team-record for a series. But they barely got any balls off the ground in their first game at Texas since last season’s AL playoffs.
Hellickson is 1-3 in his five August starts despite a 2.49 ERA in that span. He struck out four and walked four, two of those intentional, while giving up two runs and six hits.
The Rangers still had the bases loaded after scoring twice in the sixth before Ian Kinsler, the last batter Hellickson faced, hit an inning-ending flyball on the 10th pitch of the at-bat.
There was a strange play in the third after Rodriguez had a two-out single for Tampa Bay. Desmond Jennings then hit a grounder to shortstop Elvis Andrus, who fielded the ball and then realized that Rodriguez had rounded second and was right behind him well away from the base. Andrus reached out, missed and then ran Rodriguez back to the bag, reaching out to tag the runner as he dived back into the base.
Second base umpire Wally Bell ruled Rodriguez safe, though a replay showed the tag was applied in time.
Texas got out of the inning quickly after that when Johnny Damon was retired on a comebacker.
(© Copyright 2011 The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.)