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CLE@TEX: Hamilton plates Kinsler to take the lead

ARLINGTON -- On a night when Rangers Ballpark in Arlington registered its highest first-pitch temperature ever -- 106 degrees -- no one should be feeling the heat quite as much as Rangers closer Neftali Feliz, who blew his sixth save of the season in Saturday's 7-5 loss against the Indians.

Feliz, who owns a 6.41 ERA since June 15, has blown all six saves since going on the disabled list on April 23. The Rangers went out during the Trade Deadline and got two relievers who have the pedigree to be considered as temporary closers. It must provide some level of comfort for Feliz that Rangers manager Ron Washington claims he has total confidence in his embattled closer.

"My confidence is still high, it never wavered," Washington said. "I don't think [the Indians] lost confidence in their closer [Chris Perez, who blew the save on Friday] last night. They brought him back out there."

Washington also said Mike Adams and Koji Uehara, who pitched a scoreless eighth in Saturday's game, were going to be closing options for Sunday's game, but only because Feliz pitched his third consecutive game on Saturday.

"As long as he spreads [the blown saves] out, I'm good with it," Washington said. "I hope he don't blow any, but as long as he continues to spread them out. It just didn't happen tonight."

Feliz has spread them out, as he has only once blown back-to-back games.

Washington insisted that the Indians were more to credit than Feliz was to blame.

"The problem tonight was the Cleveland Indians," Washington said. "Give them credit. They put some at-bats together on our closer and beat us."

Catcher Yorvit Torrealba said that Feliz's repertoire did not appear any worse for having pitched three days in a row.

"It was good," Torrealba said. "Velocity-wise, he was up there 95, 96, 97. Overall, he was pounding the strike zone really well."

In the first at-bat of the ninth, Kosuke Fukudome fell behind, 0-2, but after Feliz missed badly with two balls and just missed with the third, Fukudome crushed the next pitch to center field for a double.

"Well, [Feliz] threw strikes," Washington said. "I think you've got to tip your hat to the Cleveland Indians; they put some good at-bats together. Fukudome smoked that ball. I thought Cruz had it, he went a long ways, but he didn't come down with it."

After Ezequiel Carrera bunted Fukudome to third, Lonnie Chisenhall barely muscled a 99 mph fastball past Ian Kinsler at second to tie the game at 4. Two batters later, Michael Brantley fouled off three straight 3-2 fastballs, then hit one over Nelson Cruz's head for the go-ahead double.

"We were trailing in the ninth inning against one of the best closers," Indians manager Manny Acta said. "These guys went out there and put a great inning together. Fukudome started the whole thing with a double, and then the young kids took over."

No one knows how tenuous a closer's job can be better than the Rangers' starting pitcher on Saturday, C.J. Wilson, who saved 24 games for the Rangers in 2008, but did so while sporting a 6.02 ERA.

"He's a young guy, he's going to have ups and downs," Wilson said. "He's not going to be Mariano Rivera for another year or two -- maybe three. That's just part of the development process. It's not an easy job at all. I know that, and that's why I support him so much. I think he's got so much potential, and you just have to ride it out, because he has so much talent."

Feliz, for his part, says that his confidence remains intact, despite the struggles.

"It's the same," Feliz said. "You just have to keep your head up. I haven't had the same results as last year, but I feel good. I have to keep my head up and keep battling."

After that double, Washington brought in Yoshinori Tateyama, who allowed a two-run homer to Jason Kipnis to give the Indians all the cushion they would need.

"We didn't close it down," Washington said. "Not making any excuses -- the Cleveland Indians swung the bat. It wasn't like he was walking people or was all over the place, they swung the bats. They're a Major League team."

That loomed large as the Rangers attempted to rally in the ninth and brought the tying run to second base with Friday's hero, Michael Young, at the plate.

Young hit the ball hard, but right at Asdrubal Cabrera to end the game. Comments