ARLINGTON (AP) – Rangers starting pitcher Scott Feldman worked out of a rough stretch in May and June when he lost six straight by reeling off six consecutive victories.
After a 5-3 loss to the Orioles on Tuesday in which he gave up five runs on seven hits over five innings, he’s now dropped three in a row.
No reason to panic, his manager said, even after the Rangers’ right-hander gave up two big run-scoring hits with two outs, including Nate McLouth’s two-run home run, in the Orioles’ decisive four-run fifth inning.
Manny Machado had a run-scoring triple and J.J. Hardy’s two-out double plated another run for Baltimore in the inning, which was followed with two shutdown innings by Chris Tillman (6-2).
“I think if there’s any pitch he’d want to take back in that inning, it would be the one to McLouth,” manager Ron Washington said.
“But other than that, there was no indication they were going to put four runs on the board, because both he and Tillman were pitching very well.”
Tillman worked 6 2/3 innings, giving up three runs on six hits while striking out seven before giving way to the bullpen, which now has a 1.57 ERA in the last 18 games.
The Orioles’ right-hander kept Rangers hitters off-balance with effective off-speed pitches and good command of his fastball.
That follows a performance two years ago in which Tillman held the Rangers to two runs on two hits and a walk over a career-high 7 1/3 innings.
Tillman has held the Rangers to a .203 average in three starts.
“It ain’t easy,” said Tillman, who improved to 6-2 on the season with a 3.71 ERA and 4-1 on the road.
“These guys have a great lineup and you have to respect that whether you’re ahead or behind.”
Jim Johnson worked a scoreless ninth to pick up his 38th save.
“Chris was good,” Orioles manager Buck Showalter said. “He had command of the breaking ball early, and threw the fastball on both sides of the plate.”
The Rangers scored two on Geovany Soto’s two-run homer in the seventh inning to close a 5-1 deficit to two and then put the tying run on base, but Pedro Strop struck out Josh Hamilton on a slider to end the threat.
David Murphy, 10 for 19 with a homer and three doubles and six RBI in his previous five games, went 1 for 4 on Tuesday, including a groundout with a runner on base to end the Rangers’ half of the eighth.
“Pedy got a couple of big outs for us,” Showalter said. The bullpen “has been a constant for us. We’ve been able to share the load and pass it around.
“We’ve got a lot of people we have confidence in.”
Feldman struck out four and walked one while ending a string of good performances by Rangers pitching, which entered Tuesday having allowed two runs or less in three consecutive games and just four total in the three-game winning streak.
The starting rotation had posted a 2.96 ERA in the previous seven games.
“I thought he made a real good pitch to Hardy and he went down and poked it to right field,” Washington said. “That’s a part of baseball, I think Scott has been throwing the ball really well. That’s just the way it went tonight.”
The AL West-division leading Rangers lost a game to Los Angeles in the standings and lead the Angels by eight games. Oakland, which started the evening six back, were playing late at home against Minnesota.
The Orioles broke loose for four runs in the fifth. Machado’s triple scored Omar Quintanilla and McLouth sent a Feldman pitch into the left-field seats for a two-run home run that made the score 5-1.
“All you’re trying to do in that situation is limit the damage,” Feldman said. “Even after giving up that hit to Hardy, we’re still in the game. I just made a bad pitch to McLouth.”
The Rangers’ Ian Kinsler hit his 14th home run of the season to tie the game in the third on a 1-0 pitch.
Orioles took a first-inning lead by scoring an unearned run with two outs.
McLouth walked, stole second and advanced to third on an error when Geovany Soto’s throw sailed into center field. He scored on Feldman’s wild pitch.
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