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TEX@DET: Feliz goes the distance, gives up three runs

DETROIT -- Josh Hamilton had gone 0-for-4 with three strikeouts but still had one chance to be a hero, extend the Rangers' winning streak and give Neftali Feliz a victory on a night when he went head-to-head against the best pitcher in the American League.

Hamilton, who has been carrying the Rangers since Opening Day, didn't get it done. Instead, with two on and two out in the ninth inning, he went down swinging against Tigers closer Jose Valverde and the Rangers went down, 3-2, in the second game of Saturday's day-night doubleheader.

"He's got me before, I've got him before," Hamilton said at his locker about 13 hours after the Rangers first showed up at Comerica Park. "Some got to win, some got to lose. I'll figure out a game plan for tomorrow and make an adjustment. It's not the first time I've struck out four times."

The loss, on a night when Feliz tried to match Justin Verlander pitch for pitch and lasted longer than the reigning AL Cy Young Award winner, brought an end to the Rangers' eight-game winning streak. It was also the team's first loss in eight games on the road.

"No loss is a good loss, but we didn't lose it, we just got beat," manager Ron Washington said. "They beat us. We can take that and come back tomorrow. One thing for sure: Trying to win a doubleheader in the Major Leagues is not easy.

"They've got pride. We fought hard and put ourselves in a position to win, but they won it. We played good baseball, but tonight they played better."

Feliz, in going eight innings, ended up with a complete game, his first in professional baseball and the first by a Rangers starter this season. But it still wasn't good enough to beat Verlander, even though he only went six innings.

"It was an honor going against one of the best pitchers in baseball," Feliz said. "I'm glad I pitched as well as I could against such a good pitcher. Sometimes you're going to lose, even though you pitch well. I'm not going to hang my head."

"To be able to beat those guys when pretty much their entire lineup is about as good as they can be right now, that's a good win," Verlander said. "It seemed like everybody in that lineup is locked in, and some of the ways you can see that is at-bats where they really battle. Pitches that most guys don't even foul off, those guys are just fouling off and staying alive. That makes it tough on a pitcher."

Feliz had just one bad inning, but the Rangers couldn't recover against Verlander or the Tigers' three best relievers. Feliz allowed only three hits on the night, but two of them came in the fourth inning. That, along with three walks and a hit batter, cost him three runs and the game.

"I felt like I lost control there for a little bit and couldn't get it back," said Feliz, who retired 13 of the last 15 batters he faced.

Verlander allowed one run on four hits, three walks and eight strikeouts. The Rangers' only run off him came in the fourth, when Michael Young led off with a walk, went to second on a passed ball, moved to third on Nelson Cruz's fly to right and scored on David Murphy's sacrifice fly.

"He's good. Man, he's good," Young said. "He locates well. He has a good curve and changeup, obviously throws extremely hard. He had great command. He's tough. A great game, a well-played game. Verlander threw well, he usually does, and Neftali did a great job."

Feliz needed just 28 pitches to set down the side in order through the first three innings. He retired Austin Jackson on a fly ball to start the fourth, but then hit Brennan Boesch with a pitch, giving the Tigers their first baserunner, before striking out Miguel Cabrera.

That's when Feliz started running into trouble. He got two strikes on Prince Fielder but ended up walking him on eight pitches. He also got ahead, 0-2, on Delmon Young with two fastballs, missed with two sliders and then came in with one more slider that was hit through the left side for a run-scoring single. A walk to Alex Avila and Ramon Santiago's two-run single made it 3-1.

The Rangers got one more in the eighth on a two-out RBI single by Murphy off Joaquin Beniot. Valverde took over in the ninth, and walks to Mitch Moreland and Ian Kinsler set up the final showdown with Hamilton, who struck out on a 2-2 split-fingered fastball.

"In the end, we had the right guy at the plate and didn't get it done," Washington said.

"That was a great game, intense, two good starting pitchers," said shortstop Elvis Andrus. "We played good baseball, but they had their ace and got him some runs. They just played better."

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