ARLINGTON (AP) – The White Sox’ bid for a road sweep of the defending American League champions came to a halt when they ran into a red-hot Rangers right-hander.
Scott Feldman (5-6) mixed a sharp sinker and a good fastball, tied a career high by pitching eight shutout innings in helping Texas beat Chicago 2-0 Sunday and avoid a sweep in their three game series.
David Murphy had three hits, including a double, and Josh Hamilton and Nelson Cruz each scored a run for the Rangers, who used some aggressive base running to scratch out a couple of runs for Feldman.
“He was throwing all his pitches for strikes, and the No. 1 thing was control,” White Sox first baseman Adam Dunn said. “He didn’t leave many balls over the plate and the ones that he did, we obviously didn’t make him pay.”
Left on the table was a good performance from Chicago starter Gavin Floyd (8-9), who gave up only one earned run over seven innings in taking the loss for Chicago. He walked five and struck out one.
An error by White Sox shortstop Alexei Ramirez scored Hamilton with an unearned run.
“He pitched really well tonight,” Dunn said of Floyd. “He battled, he got out of some tough jams, but we just got shut down tonight.
“It’s a shame, he pitched really good.”
There was plenty of praise in the visitor’s clubhouse for Feldman, who started the season 0-6, but won his fifth consecutive decision, including four as a starter.
“He’s got a good sinker and breaking ball working — he’s not hanging it — keeping the ball down, executing his pitches extremely well and not making mistakes,” Rangers manager Ron Washington said.
“He’s got a crisp fastball, too.”
That has translated to a very good July.
In his last two starts, Feldman has allowed only one run in 15 innings with 10 strikeouts and no walks, compiling a 1.96 ERA in July.
Feldman, who retired eight of the last 10 batters he faced, gave up seven hits and was efficient, throwing only 88 pitches in matching the eight innings he has thrown on two other occasions, the last being June 2, 2010, also against the White Sox in Chicago.
Joe Nathan pitched a scoreless ninth for his 21st save.
“The main adjustment I’ve made was to have a better attitude and not get caught up in the rumors and when I’m going to pitch and when I’m not going to pitch,” said Feldman, who was openly miffed when he was taken out of the rotation in June.
“I’m just worrying about having a good time and keeping things simple.”
Floyd entered his start 4-1 with a 1.67 ERA in his previous five starts for the White Sox, who have a 1½-game lead over Detroit in the AL Central.
“You just have to go out there and keep the team in the game and hope that we come back and put runs up,” Floyd said. “I got enough to focus on that I don’t worry about that. Our team is going to score runs.”
The White Sox left six runners on base and were 0 for 5 with runners in scoring position.
The Rangers weren’t much better, continuing to struggle with runners in scoring position. They did manage to scratch across two runs after finishing the series 1 for 30 with runners in scoring position.
They left 13 runners on base Sunday.
“I look at it the other way,” Washington said. “At least we’re getting them there (in position). We’re too good a hitting team to (continue) to not get them home.”
Hamilton returned to the lineup for the Rangers, but not in his customary No. 3 slot. Washington penciled him in at No. 5.
Hamilton is hitting .115 in his last 17 games after going 0 for 2 with two walks as the designated hitter.
He scored the Rangers’ first run after reaching base on his second walk in the bottom half of the third.
He advanced to third on Murphy’s single and scored on Ramirez’s error on Mike Napoli’s ground ball in what would have been the third out.
Nelson Cruz, who doubled to lead off the fifth, scored the Rangers’ second run, breaking for home from third when Floyd fielded Michael Young’s dribbler in front of the plate and threw to first.
“When you’re not scoring runs, you have to take chances,” Washington said. “You want that runner to come down the third-base line as far as he can, and then as a runner he has to make a decision. Either you go or you don’t.”
Jordan Danks was 2 for 3 for the White Sox, who advanced a runner to second three times.
“Anytime we got anything going, he just found a way to get himself out of it,” White Sox manager Robin Ventura said. “He got the pitch when he needed it. You just tip your hat.”
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