Rookie left-hander Perez’s complete game sinks Astros

Posted Sunday, Aug. 11, 2013  comments  Print Reprints

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Martin Perez had pitched the best game of his young career through eight shutout innings. He had scattered three hits with a career-high eight strikeouts.

But chances were that he wouldn’t be allowed to finish it off. The Texas Rangers led only 2-0 after eight innings and Perez heard the news: If it stayed that way, Joe Nathan would be called on to close it out.

“I talked to the guys and told them to score more runs because I want to finish my game,” Perez said. “And they did.”

Jurickson Profar had a two-out, two-run single to start a four-run ninth, and Perez went the distance for the first time in his career in the Rangers’ 6-1 victory over the Houston Astros on Sunday at Minute Maid Park.

Texas extended its season-long winning streak to seven games, and remains atop the American League West standings.

Perez was an out from a complete-game shutout, but those dreams were spoiled when Chris Carter took him deep. That didn’t stop Perez from enjoying the moment when he got the 27th out a batter later.

Perez fielded a comebacker by Matt Dominguez, threw it over to first baseman Mitch Moreland and then shook hands with his teammates.

“I don’t care about the home run because the most important thing today is we won,” Perez said. “I’m happy to throw my first complete game in my career and just want to continue what I’ve been doing.”

Perez threw 115 pitches, 80 for strikes, allowing only four hits with two walks and a hit batter.

Perez gave up a two-out double to Jose Altuve in the first inning, but Altuve was thrown out trying to stretch it into a triple on a nice relay throw by Alex Rios to Ian Kinsler to Adrian Beltre.

Perez ran into his most trouble in the third inning. Carlos Corporan led off with a single and Jake Elmore drew a one-out walk, but Perez got out of it by inducing an inning-ending double play.

Perez received a mound visit by manager Ron Washington in the fifth inning after issuing a two-out walk to Brandon Barnes, but responded by getting Elmore to ground out.

That started a string of nine straight batters retired by Perez, including the final out of the seventh inning on a nice backhanded stop by Profar.

Perez is now 5-2 with a 3.30 ERA over 10 starts since being recalled on June 22.

“I told him, we all know you have the stuff, now it’s about doing it,” catcher Geovany Soto said. “And he had a great game today and really executed his pitches. He threw with more conviction, more aggression.”

Said Washington: “He looked like he figured things out. He’s growing right before our eyes. Just let him continue to pitch and enjoy what you’re watching.”

Perez did it on a day that saw Astros starter Dallas Keuchel take a perfect game into the fifth inning before Rios broke up the bid by reaching on an infield single with one out. Jeff Baker followed with a single, and Soto drove in Rios with a ground-rule double over the center-field fence.

Rios made it 2-0 with an RBI single in the sixth.

It stayed a two-run game until the ninth when the Rangers scored four runs in a two-out rally against Keuchel.

Profar, who grounded out his first three at-bats, sent a 2-0 sinker through the right side of the infield that scored two runs and a third on a throwing error by the Astros. Leonys Martin then drove in Profar with a single to left.

The Rangers, as Ian Kinsler said, are “surfing” on a wave right now by winning 12 of their last 13 games, after losing 12 of their previous 15.

“The confidence level of everyone on the club is good right now,” Kinsler said. “We know it’s not one person that’s going to get it done; we all have to.”

Drew Davison, 817-390-7760 Twitter: @drewdavison

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