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NYY@TEX: Ross records fourth win with shutout relief

ARLINGTON -- The Robbie Ross Magical Mystery Tour continues and so does the Rangers' great start. Ross keeps winning games, the Rangers keep winning series and manager Ron Washington said the goal is just to be the best possible team that it can be on that particular night.

The Rangers were that on Wednesday night even though they had to pitch the game "out of the bullpen," and five relievers, including spot starter Scott Feldman, combined to get it done in a 7-3 victory over the Yankees at the Ballpark in Arlington. The Rangers, in taking two of three over the Yankees, have won six straight series to open the season for the first time in club history.

"That's exactly our mindset, winning series" third baseman Adrian Beltre said after going 3-for-5 with a home run and three RBIs. "We've played some tough teams lately, nine games against Boston, Detroit and New York. To win those series is a good sign because it was a tough test. Hopefully we can keep it going."

The Rangers have also won 12 straight regular-season series going back to last year. They haven't lost a three-game series at the Ballpark since July 1-3 against the Marlins last season.

"We're doing everything well," Washington said. "We're swinging the bats, playing the game the way it's supposed to be played, pitching well, running the bases, playing defense. We're playing a complete game. We're just playing the best game we can possibly play that night. If you do that you'll have fun, and we're having a lot of fun right now."

Nobody is having more fun than Ross, the rookie left-hander who was a long shot to make the team in Spring Training. Now he is the only four-game winner in the American League after retiring eight straight hitters in relief on Wednesday night. He is also the first Major League pitcher since 1918 to get four victories in his first six Major League appearances.

"I don't know what's going on," Ross said. "It's weird for me. It's a lot of fun, I'm just enjoying it."

Ross was the second of five pitchers used. Feldman, who is primarily a long/middle reliever, started the game because the Rangers were rained out on Friday, forced to play a doubleheader on Saturday and did not want to pitch Matt Harrison on three days' rest on Wednesday.

That's what necessitated what is known as a "bullpen" game, although that might be misleading considering that Feldman won 17 games in 2009, was the Opening Day starter in 2010 and pitched as well as anybody in Spring Training.

"We didn't look at it as a bullpen game," designated hitter Michael Young said. "Scott Feldman is a legitimate big league starter and a huge part of our team."

Yankees manager Joe Girardi didn't necessarily see facing the Rangers' bullpen as a particular advantage either.

"Sometimes that can be difficult because you don't see the same guy twice very often," Girardi said. "You get a different look every at-bat. Sometimes that can be harder."

Particularly against a bullpen that everybody was worried about in Spring Training but now has a 2.06 ERA after 19 games.

"We have a very good bullpen," Washington said. "Ross has been tremendous, and tonight he did exactly what we needed done -- he set it up for the rest of the guys."

The Rangers hit three home runs on the night, including one by Beltre to lead off the second to take a 1-0 lead. They added three runs in the third inning against Yankees starter Phil Hughes, allowing Feldman to take a 4-0 lead into the fourth.

The Yankees got a rally going on singles by Robinson Cano and Mark Teixeira to start the inning. Feldman retired Nick Swisher on a high popup, but Raul Ibanez hit a ground-rule double to left to make it 4-1. Ross took over and gave up a sacrifice fly to Eric Chavez. That made it 4-2, but Ross got Russell Martin on a soft line drive to Mitch Moreland at first base to end the inning.

Ross then retired the side in order in the fifth and sixth, and the Rangers were able to hand Neftali Feliz a 7-2 lead for his one inning of "tune-up" work in the seventh. Mike Napoli and Moreland both hit home runs and Beltre added another RBI single in the sixth. The Rangers have homered in 13 of their last 14 games and lead the Majors with 31 on the season.

"They punish mistakes," Girardi said. "It's not singles. It's usually extra-base hits and home runs. That's what they did."

Feliz gave up a home run to Ibanez in the seventh but then retired three straight hitters before turning it over to Mike Adams and Joe Nathan.

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