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Lowe induces inning-ending double play

ARLINGTON -- Rangers shortstop Elvis Andrus, with a one-run lead teetering on the brink, had some sage advice for closer Neftali Feliz in the ninth inning on Wednesday afternoon.

"Throw the ball down the middle," Andrus said after Feliz had just walked two White Sox hitters with one out and was in danger of suffering his third blown save in eight days.

Feliz definitely made some kind of adjustment. He was able to get both Alex Rios and A.J. Pierzynski to pop the ball up, and the Rangers held on for a 2-1 victory over the White Sox at the Ballpark in Arlington.

Feliz earned his 10th save with a scoreless ninth, allowed C.J. Wilson to earn his fifth win of the season and finished off three tough final innings for the Rangers bullpen. Right-hander Mark Lowe and left-hander Darren Oliver also had to pitch out of difficult situations in the seventh and eighth before handing it off to the Rangers closer.

But on this sunny afternoon before 32,382, manager Ron Washington's late-inning bullpen blueprint held up and allowed the Rangers to win for the third time in four games. They scored eight runs and allowed just one in those three wins. The bullpen was needed for just two outs in Sunday's win over Philadelphia, and Alexi Ogando pitched a shutout on Monday.

Rangers relievers had to get eight outs on Wednesday and six of them had to come with the tying run standing on third base.

"That was big for us," Lowe said. "We have had some ups and downs along the way, but it was nice to see it turn out the way we designed it. We all came in, were given a job to do and we got it done."

Feliz was able to finish it off with a scoreless ninth despite the two walks.

"You love to have that guy in the closer's role," second baseman Ian Kinsler said. "Being able to bring him in is huge. Today, he got his blood flowing and got the radar gun moving."

For a while, Wilson didn't look like he would need much help from the bullpen. He had a two-hitter with a two-run lead through six innings and, because of two double plays, had faced the minimum of 18 batters. He then retired Juan Pierre to lead off the seventh before giving up three straight singles to Alexei Ramirez, Carlos Quentin and Paul Konerko.

Suddenly, it was 2-1, and Washington was headed to the mound.

"C.J. did a good job, he just ran out of gas there in the seventh," Washington said.

Lowe needed just two pitches to get out of the jam, getting Rios to hit into an inning-ending double play. But he fell into more trouble in the eighth when he walked Pierzynski leading off the inning. Brent Lillibridge bunted Pierzynski to second and Gordon Beckham's single to right gave the White Sox runners at the corners.

White Sox manager Ozzie Guillen then sent up left-handed pinch-hitter Adam Dunn and Washington countered with Oliver. The Rangers' primary setup reliever, Oliver had allowed seven runs, four earned, in 8 2/3 innings over his past eight outings. But he was pitching for the first time in six days and the extra rest helped. Oliver struck out Dunn and got Pierre on a grounder to short to end the inning.

"His stuff was more crisp today," Washington said. "He threw it exactly where he wanted it. He hadn't been able to execute his pitches but today he did."

That left the ninth inning for Feliz. He needed just one pitch to get Ramirez on a fly to center but then walked Quentin and Konerko.

"I was leaving my [front] shoulder open and that's why I was off the strike zone," Feliz said. "I can't get frustrated. I just had to keep my pitches low. That's all I was trying to do. If I get frustrated, I lose the game."

He didn't. Rios hit a popup into shallow right. Kinsler went out to get it and the ball deflected off his glove. But right fielder Nelson Cruz was right there and fired the ball to second to get Konerko on the force. Quentin went to third on the ball, but Feliz retired Pierzynski on a high pop to right-center to end the game.

"We had a few opportunities and those guys didn't come up with the big hit," White Sox manager Ozzie Guillen said. "We pitched very well. We had a few chances and didn't get the big hit today, and that cost us the game."

Washington admitted his heart was thumping in the ninth while Feliz was struggling. But leave it to Andrus to get everything settled down.

"His fastball has natural movement," Andrus said. "Sometimes it rises, sometimes it sinks. I felt his fastball was back, I just reminded him to make them make contact, and he did." Comments