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Feldman, Hamilton lead Rangers past Indians, 4-1

Texas Rangers shortstop Elvis Andrus tags out Cleveland Indians' Grady Sizemore (24) attempting to steal second base in the fifth inning in Cleveland.
Texas Rangers shortstop Elvis Andrus tags out Cleveland Indians' Grady Sizemore (24) attempting to steal second base in the fifth inning in Cleveland.
Mark Duncan, Associated Press

CLEVELAND — Josh Hamilton is heating up.

The timing couldn't be better for the Texas Rangers.

Hamilton had four hits Thursday, including the go-ahead two-run double in the third inning, leading Texas to a 4-1 victory over the Cleveland Indians.

The All-Star outfielder hit .486 with a homer and eight RBIs on the Rangers' 10-game trip, raising his average from .220 to .260. More importantly, he's hitting his stride just as Boston comes to town for a three-game series with major playoff implications.

"He looked liked Josh Hamilton to me," Texas manager Ron Washington said. "He's spraying the ball everywhere. As long as he's spraying the ball all over the ballpark, that's Josh."

The Rangers, who went 5-5 on the trip, trail the Red Sox by a half-game in the American League wild-card race.

"We always look forward to Boston," Hamilton said. "They've been good for a few years. Everybody gets fired up for the guys who've been there the last couple of years."

"It's an important series," Washington added. "We want to win the series, just like they want to win the series. They know how to win. They've been around. They're not going anyplace."

Scott Feldman (12-4) worked out of trouble several times after allowing a first-inning run in winning his third straight start. The right-hander gave up one run in six innings and struck out six to improve to 8-1 with a 3.33 ERA in 10 road starts this season.

Texas pitchers dominated the series after the Indians scored five runs in the third inning Tuesday night against Dustin Nippert. The Rangers held the Indians to one run — which came on Shin-Soo Choo's sacrifice fly Thursday — in the final 23 innings of the series.

"Their pitching the last couple of days has been very good," Indians manager Eric Wedge said. "They've always hit, but the difference this year is their pitching. They shut us down."

Hamilton's double off Jeremy Sowers (4-8) gave the Rangers a 2-1 lead. He also had an infield hit in the first and turned what appeared to be a routine single into a double by hustling into second base in the sixth. Hamilton's effort resulted in a run when he advanced to third on a hit and scored on David Murphy's sacrifice fly.

Hamilton added a single in the eighth and is batting .522 (12 for 23) with six RBIs in six games against the Indians this season.

Hamilton, who also had a two-run double to left in Wednesday night's 5-0 win, attributes his recent success to using the whole field.

"I haven't done it in awhile," he said. "I've been trying to get out and hit the ball instead of letting the ball get to me. When you do that, you can't hit the ball effectively to the opposite field."

After batting .304 with a league-best 130 RBIs in 2008, Hamilton didn't let this season's struggles become a negative.

"It's easy to get down and give up when things aren't going well," he said. "I'm glad I didn't get to that point."

Hamilton was 9 for 12 with four doubles in the series.

"He's obviously a very talented player and when he puts the bat on the ball, things happen," Sowers said. "He obviously had a really good series against us."

Feldman, who is tied for second in the AL in wins, allowed seven hits and threw 108 pitches.

"I didn't have any quick innings," he said, "but I was able to make quality pitches with runners in scoring position."

Frank Francisco pitched the ninth for his 15th save and his first since July 10. He was on the disabled list for three weeks with pneumonia.

Rookie right-hander Neftali Feliz relieved Feldman in the seventh and struck out the first five hitters he faced before Jhonny Peralta grounded out. Feliz also struck out the last two Angels hitters he faced Aug. 7, tying him with Hall of Famer and team president Nolan Ryan for the club record with seven straight strikeouts.

Elvis Andrus added a solo homer in the fourth, his fifth of the season.

Michael Young, who entered the game in a 1-for-18 slump, singled with one out in the third and took third on Andruw Jones' two-out double. Hamilton's hit toward the line fell in front of a diving Trevor Crowe in left field.

NOTES: 2B Ian Kinsler (left hamstring) was 0 for 2 with a walk and was hit by a pitch in the first game of his rehab assignment at Double-A Frisco. He's scheduled to be activated Friday. ... SS Asdrubal Cabrera extended his hitting streak to eight games. He's batting .433 (13 for 30) in the streak. ... RHP Justin Masterson, acquired from Boston in the Victor Martinez trade, will make his second start for the Indians in Minnesota on Friday night.