Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Astros tee off on Feliz in 9th to beat Rangers (Photo Gallery)

ARLINGTON -- The report manager Ron Washington received Wednesday afternoon was that Neftali Feliz would be ready to go later that night.
Pitching coach Mike Maddux delivered the message directly from Feliz, who only a night earlier had pitched two innings and thrown 35 pitches.
So, when the ninth inning rolled around Wednesday night with the Rangers in a save situation,
Feliz was brought in from the bullpen to close out a series sweep of Houston.
Four hits, four runs and a blown save later, the Astros were the ones exiting Rangers Ballpark with a victory. Feliz and Washington, though, weren't doing any second-guessing.
Feliz got only two outs as the Astros charged back from a two-run deficit and avoided a three-game sweep with a 5-3 victory at Rangers Ballpark.
The Lone Star Series will resume Tuesday at Minute Maid Park.
"Right guy, right spot, didn't get it done," Washington 
said. "We're not going to sit here and make excuses. He was still 95, 96 mph. He just put the ball in some wrong spots, and they hit the ball hard."
Colby Lewis pitched with stiffness in his neck over seven scoreless innings, and Michael Young had just delivered an RBI double in the eighth for a 3-1 lead to cancel out a run the Astros had scored in the top of the inning.
Carlos Lee, though, started the ninth with a double over third base and scored one out later on a double down the left-field line by Chris Johnson.
After an infield hit by Jason Michaels, Johnson scored on a passed ball against Yorvit Torrealba to tie the
Pinch-hitter Matt Downs followed with a two-run shot -- the Astros' first homer in eight games and 338 at-bats -- to hand Feliz a fourth blown save.
He blew only three in 43 chances last season.
"The result was not the one I was expecting," he said.
"I felt good. My arm was OK. I didn't feel anything wrong with my arm that wouldn't let me pitch today."
The Rangers missed a chance to move three games up on Seattle in the American League West. They led from the start, opening with a run in the first as leadoff 
man Ian Kinsler singled, stole second without a throw, went to third on a Josh Hamilton grounder, and scored on a wild pitch.
Nelson Cruz launched a homer estimated at 415 feet off a window of the Diamond Club in left field in the fifth to stake Lewis to a 2-0 lead.
Lewis had allowed only two hits when he began the seventh. Washington, Maddux and assistant trainer Kevin Harmon went to the mound to check on Lewis, who had what was later reported as neck stiffness.
The right-hander stayed in the game and pitched around a third Astros hit. He was at 103 pitches 
entering the eighth, but the Rangers didn't let him return.
"It got tight after the fifth and spasmed up there in sixth," said Lewis, who said he started having neck issues after his last start at Atlanta.
"It was almost gone coming into today, and I could barely feel it. It flared up."
So did the Astros' bats against Feliz, who blew a save for the first time since May 27.
The previous three all came against Kansas City.
"It's something that happens," Feliz said. "I left some pitches up in the zone. They hit it, and that was the result."

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