Feldman steps in for Oswalt in opener with BoSox

Scott Feldman steps in for Roy Oswalt this evening when the Texas Rangers begin a three-game set with the Boston Red Sox at Rangers Ballpark in Arlington.

Oswalt was slated to go tonight, but was scratched on Sunday with back tightness. The Rangers are hoping that he only misses one start, but he has been on the disabled list five times in his career because of back problems, including twice last year.

"When we signed Roy, prior to him signing, he explained to us that sometimes his lower back acts up," Texas general manager Jon Daniels said. "He may get an injection, but we believe he'll miss just one start."

Oswalt felt his back flare up on his last pitch during a bullpen session on Friday, and the Rangers decided late Saturday night to shut him down. He'll be examined on Monday in Houston by a back doctor that has treated him in the past.

So tonight it will be Feldman, who tossed two scoreless innings out of the bullpen in his last appearance July 8 against the Twins, and got a no-decision in his last start against the White Sox July 4, allowing four runs on six hits over six innings.

Feldman, who has pitched to a 5.06 ERA in seven appearances against the Red Sox, has won his last three decisions and is 3-6 on the year with a 5.89 ERA.

The Rangers return home tonight after dropping two of three to the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim following a 7-4 loss in Sunday's rubber match at Angel Stadium.

Matt Harrison (12-5) surrendered four runs on eight hits and two walks over six-plus innings to take the loss for Texas, which saw its lead atop the AL West sliced to five games.

"Matt was pretty good. He kept us in the ballgame," Rangers manager Ron Washington said about Harrison. "We couldn't shut it down in the bullpen."

Boston, meanwhile, will be trying to bounce back from a weekend sweep at the hands of the Toronto Blue Jays which culminated with a 15-7 shellacking at Fenway Park on Sunday.

Adrian Gonzalez clubbed a three-run homer for the Red Sox, while starter Jon Lester (5-8) endured a forgettable outing. Lester allowed a career-high 11 runs on nine hits, including four homers, and five walks in four-plus innings.

"It's embarrassing. I've let my team down a lot this year," said Lester. "It's hard for me to walk around this clubhouse and look guys in the eye right now. I'm not pitching well, I'm not doing my job. The guys score seven runs today, we should win this game."

Hoping for a better effort tonight, the Red Sox will turn to lefty Felix Doubront, who has won his last two starts. Doubront improved to 10-4 on the year on Wednesday with a terrific showing against the Chicago White Sox, as he allowed a run and four hits in six innings to lower his ERA to 4.24.

"Coming out of Spring Training, Vegas would have given you pretty good odds that he would not have been the first on our staff with 10 wins," manager Bobby Valentine said.

Doubront is 0-1 in four games (1 start) against the Rangers with a 9.95 ERA.