Neftali Feliz pitched seven crisp innings in his first major league start and the Texas Rangers beat the Seattle Mariners 1-0 on Tuesday night.
Feliz allowed four hits, struck out four and walked two in his first game since the former closer failed to hold a two-run lead in Game 6 of the World Series. The Cardinals won in seven games.
This time, Feliz watched the bullpen close it out. Mike Adams pitched a perfect eighth inning, and Joe Nathan did the same in the ninth for his second save.
Feliz was a shade better than Blake Beavan, who was pitching for the first time in the ballpark where he grew up watching the Rangers.
David Murphy had three hits and drove in the only run with an infield single in the second inning.
Feliz didn't have a strikeout after the fifth inning, and relied heavily on off-speed pitches instead of the 100-mph heat he used to get 72 saves over two seasons.
Feliz's pitch count was past 100 when he had runners at first and third with two outs in the seventh. Miguel Olivo hit a comebacker that Feliz bobbled, but he recovered just in time to beat Olivo's headfirst slide at first.
Like Yu Darvish a night earlier, Feliz let two of the first three hitters reach base — both on walks — but settled down much more quickly than the Japanese sensation. Starting with a double play, Feliz (1-0) retired nine consecutive batters before allowing his first hit in 59 at-bats over 19 2-3 career innings against Seattle, a two-out single by former Ranger Justin Smoak in the fourth.
Beavan (0-1), a first-round pick by the Rangers in 2007, was almost as good. The Dallas-area high school product allowed six hits in 6 1-3 innings and pitched out of trouble in the fifth and sixth. He left with runners at first and second, but Tom Wilhelmsen escaped the jam.
Texas grabbed the lead in the second. Adrian Beltre led off with a double but was caught between second and third on a grounder back to Beavan. He stayed in the rundown long enough for Michael Young to get to second. Young then moved up on a wild pitch and scored on Murphy's infield hit.
NOTES: Mariners manager Eric Wedge benched SS Brendan Ryan for a game, saying it was over issues of "accountability." He didn't specify, but did say it wasn't solely because of an errant throw on a double-play ball that sparked the Texas rally that bailed out Darvish in his debut. Munenori Kawasaki started in Ryan's place. ... Jesus Montero was back in the Mariners' lineup as the DH after missing a game with a stomach ailment. ... Darvish and Feliz became the first back-to-back Texas pitchers to make their first major league start since Matt Harrison and Warner Madrigal did it in July 2008. According to the Elias Sports Bureau, Darvish was the first pitcher in more than 100 years to win his major league debut after allowing at least four runs in the first inning.