ARLINGTON, Texas (AP) — Martin Perez won his sixth straight decision and helped the surging Texas Rangers to yet another series victory.
The left-hander kept rolling despite a bout with control issues that had his manager questioning his body language on the mound.
Perez pitched six solid innings while working behind a number of hitters, the first six Texas batters reached for an early lead and the Rangers beat the Boston Red Sox 6-2 on Sunday.
“The thing that I like is that he continues to search and find ways to get himself out of the inning,” manager Jeff Banister said. “He seemed to throw just enough strikes to get them into swing mode. There’s still a learning process, but it’s getting better.”
Prince Fielder hit a two-run homer for the Rangers, who are 11-0-1 in series since getting swept at Oakland in mid-May. Texas improved to 8-1 in deciding games this season.
Perez (7-4) was working on a shutout before Bryce Brentz hit a solo drive with two out in the sixth for his first major league homer. Perez matched the longest winning streak of his career, from 2013, despite throwing more balls than strikes into the fifth inning.
“Sometimes with the first pitch, trying to throw a strike and sometimes to push the ball there,” said Perez, who improved to 6-1 in Arlington. “And I can’t do that anymore. Sometimes you’re trying to push the ball and you miss. You miss close, but you miss.”
Shin-Soo Choo, Ian Desmond, Nomar Mazara and Adrian Beltre opened Texas’ three-run first with four straight singles. The last two drove in a run apiece, to go along with Rougned Odor’s blooper to left against Clay Buchholz (3-8).
Choo had three hits and scored twice, the second time on another RBI single from Beltre.
“In the first inning, it wasn’t really a whole lot of balls that were hit hard, they were just hit where we weren’t,” Buchholz said. “That was basically the difference.”
The Rangers, who have the best record in the American League at 49-27, won a three-game series for the seventh time after dropping the opener.
Perez gave up six hits, walked two and struck out two.
Buchholz issued two of his season-high five walks in the first inning of his second start since coming back from a brief demotion to the bullpen. He gave up seven hits and five runs — four earned — in 5 1/3 innings, falling to 1-6 against Texas.
“There was a stretch where we’ve seen in a number of his starts where he was very good, but there’s an inning inside of it that’s the one you can point to,” manager John Farrell said.
ONE MORE TIME
David Ortiz pinch-hit with two runners on in the eighth inning of the retiring slugger’s final regular-season game in Texas. It prompted a move to lefty reliever Jake Diekman and a standing ovation from the crowd, including plenty of Rangers fans.
Ortiz pulled a run-scoring single through the shift in right before Travis Shaw flied out. Former closer Shawn Tolleson pitched a scoreless ninth for a Texas bullpen that surrendered four runs with two outs in the ninth of an 8-7 loss in the opener.
Red Sox: Utility player Brock Holt is getting close to a return after missing 34 games with a concussion, but the plan is for a cautious approach when he does get back. “To say that once he comes back, he’s good to go five to six times a week, I think that might be a little aggressive right now,” Farrell said before the game.
Rangers: RHP Yu Darvish (right shoulder discomfort) threw 30 pitches in a bullpen session.
Red Sox: LHP Eduardo Rodriguez (1-2, 6.41 ERA) gets the opener of a three-game series at Tampa Bay on Monday night. He is winless in four straight starts since beating Baltimore 6-2 in his 2016 debut.
Rangers: RHP Chi Chi Gonzalez is set for his first appearance of the season in the opener of a four-game series at the Yankees on Monday night. He was 3-5 with a 4.03 ERA in 10 starts as a rookie last year. Texas optioned lefty reliever Alex Claudio to Triple-A Round Rock after Sunday’s game to make room for Gonzalez.