ST. LOUIS (AP) — Nelson Cruz got the decisive hit for the second straight game with a two-run homer in the third inning and Martin Perez prevailed in a matchup of rookie starters as the Texas Rangers beat the St. Louis Cardinals 4-2 on Saturday night.
Shelby Miller (8-5) allowed two homers for the second time in three starts and didn't make it out of the sixth against the team the Cardinals beat in the 2011 World Series making its first regular-season visit to Busch Stadium.
A.J. Pierzynski also hit a two-run homer for Texas, which goes for a three-game sweep on Sunday night with Nick Tepesch (3-6, 4.84) facing Adam Wainwright (10-4, 2.37). The first two games have been sellouts and the finale was supposed to be a matchup of aces, but the Rangers are saving Yu Darvish for the Yankees Tuesday in New York.
Perez (1-1) was recalled from Triple-A Round Rock where he was 5-1 with a 1.75 ERA. The lefty allowed a run in each of the first two innings but gave up just two hits the next five innings and retired the last 10.
Though perhaps the Rangers' top prospect, Perez entered 1-5 with a 5.40 ERA with seven starts.
Joe Nathan wrapped up a game that had all of the scoring in the first three innings with a perfect ninth for his 24th save in 25 chances. The start of the game was delayed by rain 66 minutes. It was the second such delay this week.
Earlier Saturday, manager Ron Washington said he felt good about Cruz's tiebreaking two-run single in the ninth on Friday because the Rangers need wins, and not because Cruz needed redemption. The Rangers were an out away from taking the '11 Series when Cruz misplayed David Freese's game-tying triple in Game 6.
Cruz snapped a 2-2 third-inning tie with a two-run homer, his 19th of the season. He also singled and has four hits and five RBIs the first two games of the series.
The Cardinals have opened the scoring both games and took the lead on Allen Craig's RBI single in the first with Carlos Beltran just beating the relay to the plate from center fielder Leonys Martin.
The Rangers answered when Adrian Beltre doubled to open the second and Pierzynski lined the next pitch into the right field seats for his seventh homer. The Cardinals tied it in the bottom half when Freese tripled off the top of the wall in right-center and scored on Shane Robinson's sacrifice fly.
NOTES: St. Louis Rams general manager Les Snead threw the ceremonial first pitch. ... Tepesch is 0-2 with a 9.77 ERA in his last three starts, and Washington said he needs to develop trust in all of his pitches. ... Wainwright has worked at least seven innings six straight starts, going 5-1. ... Cardinals RHP Michael Blazek made his major league debut and struck out two in a perfect ninth.