- Associated Press - Saturday, April 12, 2014

ARLINGTON, Texas (AP) - Scott Feldman had a tough assignment Friday night, facing Texas Rangers ace Yu Darvish.

That would have been true even without the emotional burden the Houston Astros pitcher faced following his father Marshall’s death Wednesday at age 70.

Darvish took a perfect-game bid into the sixth and allowed only hit in eight scoreless innings. Feldman was nearly as good, shutting out the Rangers on two hits for seven innings.

“It was a rough couple of days,” Feldman said after Houston’s 1-0, 12-inning loss. “I had to go out and keep my emotions in check. I think he was watching. He was a big baseball fan. I knew he would want me to do a good job.”

He gave up a second-inning double to Mitch Moreland and a fifth-inning infield hit to Leonys Martin. Feldman walked four and hit Kouzmanoff and Moreland with pitches with one out in the seventh.

An intentional walk loaded the bases with two outs. Feldman then struck out Josh Wilson.

“I knew he was going to be my last batter,” Feldman said. “I don’t have too much extra to play with.”

Feldman lowered his ERA to 0.44. He won his first two starts and has allowed one earned run in 20 2-3 innings.

“He had a tremendous game, dealing with the family issues the way he did,” Astros manager Bo Porter said. “That speaks to what a professional he is.”

Darvish retired his first 15 batters before Matt Dominguez singled softly to center, one pitch after Alex Rios nearly caught Dominguez’s foul into the right-field corner before running into the padded wall as the ball landed.

“When he left the game,” Porter said, “we just thought, ‘Let’s take our shot at somebody else.’”

The Texas bullpen limited Houston to one more hit and two walks.

Darvish hasn’t allowed a run in 15 innings through two starts. Rangers manager Ron Washington said he sees a crisper Darvish than the one who led the major leagues in strikeouts last season.

“In a way, he’s just saying he can do anything that he wants to do with that baseball,” Washington said.

Darvish walked only one batter. He fanned five consecutive batters in the third and fourth innings, all swinging. And he pitched despite bleeding from the knuckle of his right thumb in the middle innings.

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