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07/25/10 12:55 AM ET

Feldman has hot-and-cold start in loss

Rangers allow Halos to close division gap to six games

ARLINGTON -- With a week left to go before the Trade Deadline, there is still some intrigue bubbling in the Rangers front office and it is taking an odd twist.

The Rangers are looking for a bat while clubs are calling them and asking for pitching. Scott Feldman's name is among those being asked about. The Milwaukee Brewers, who have been looking for starting pitching, were among those who were watching Feldman pitch in a 6-2 loss to the Angels on Saturday night at the Ballpark in Arlington.

Feldman gave those watching something to think about as he showed why he can be a part of a contending team and also why the Rangers have concerns about him.

Feldman, pitching before a sellout crowd of 47,098 fans, retired the first nine batters he faced while holding his own in a tight pitching duel with Ervin Santana. Then Feldman allowed eight of the next 14 batters to reach base as Santana pulled away in the duel. The Angels, from the fourth inning on, had 13 hits in their last 29 at-bats.

Feldman ended up allowing three runs and was pulled after 5 1/3 innings pitched. He is now 5-9 with a 5.46 ERA on the season, including 0-3 with a 6.17 ERA over his past six starts.

"Definitely it's frustrating," Feldman said. "Tonight would have been a good night to put up zeroes. Santa was throwing good for them. In a game like that you've got to keep throwing up zeroes."

Santana held the Rangers to two runs in eight innings. He allowed five hits walked two and struck out eight. Michael Young and Nelson Cruz both hit home runs for the Rangers, but Ian Kinsler was 0-for-2 with two walks, ending his 16-game hitting streak.

"Santana was good tonight and we couldn't get anything going," Rangers manager Ron Washington said. "Tonight we needed seven runs to win, and no team in the league was going to score seven runs the way Santana was throwing."

The Rangers are now six games up on the Angels with the final game of the series scheduled for Sunday night.

"It comes down to pitching, and it did again tonight," Washington said. "Too bad it was all on the other side. I thought [Feldman] went out and competed very well. The other guy just did a better job. But I was very pleased with what [Feldman] did, very much so."

The Rangers and the Angels face off again next weekend in a three-game series that starts Friday in Anaheim. Feldman, a 17-game winner last season who is signed through 2012 with a club option for 2013, is scheduled to pitch on Friday. The Rangers have some flexibility if they want to switch up their rotation. Rich Harden is waiting in the wings.

Harden, on the disabled list with a strained muscle in his lower back, is scheduled to make a fourth medical rehabilitation assignment for Triple-A Oklahoma City on Monday. If that goes well, Harden could return to the Rangers rotation as early as the following Saturday against the Angels.

Tommy Hunter is scheduled to start on that day. But he could be moved up to Friday, allowing Feldman to move to the bullpen as a middle reliever. That was a role he filled early in his career, before he earned a spot in the rotation last year.

"I'm just going to keep working on my command and getting the ball down," Feldman said. "Tonight, the first four innings went well, then I got behind hitters and didn't hit my spots. I was getting the ball up. I really wasn't executing my pitches."

The Rangers have been getting some interest for both Feldman and Harden. If the Rangers trade one, they could let the other try to cement a spot in the rotation, or at least hold it until Derek Holland is ready to come off the disabled list. He has been sidelined with left shoulder inflammation and a sprained right knee since May 31, but is scheduled to start on Wednesday for Oklahoma City.

He could be an option in the Major League rotation at some point in the next couple of weeks, giving the Rangers three viable candidates for the last spot in the rotation behind Cliff Lee, C.J. Wilson, Colby Lewis and Hunter.

The Rangers are more concerned about adding a right-handed bat that can back up at first base. The Rangers have had substantive talks with the Marlins of late about Jorge Cantu and they also have interest in Ty Wigginton with the Orioles.

Usually the Rangers have hitting and are looking for pitching this time of the year. But this isn't a normal season by any means for the Rangers.

T.R. Sullivan is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.