Martin Perez was one strike away from a complete-game shutout in a 6-1 Rangers win Sunday afternoon in Houston.
A Chris Carter solo home run with two outs in the bottom of the ninth erased the shutout, but Perez surrendered only four hits over his nine innings of work.
Perez retired 15-of-17 batters between the third and eighth inning, highlighted by a six-pitch sixth inning which included a strikeout. The lefty struck out a career-high eight batters in the game.
Perez’s body of work was enough to out-duel Dallas Keuchel, who was nearly as sharp through eight innings for Houston. Keuchel needed just 90 pitches to get through eight.
But the Rangers got to the 25-year-old in the ninth, and a two-run lead ballooned to six runs.
A double, a walk and a hit batter loaded the bases for Jurickson Profar. And they were ducks on a pond for the 20-year-old rookie. Profar knocked in two with a single to right, with a third run scoring on a throwing error by L.J. Hoes.
Leonys Martin looped a single over third in the next at-bat to plate the sixth and final run for Texas.
The ninth-inning rally chased Keuchel from the game. Both starting pitchers threw 115 pitches on Sunday.
Alex Rios started a Rangers rally in the fifth inning by legging out a ground ball to shortstop, breaking up Dallas Keuchel’s perfect game. A Jeff Baker single put two runners on board for Geovany Soto, who sent an 0-1 pitch about 430 feet to center field for a ground-rule double.
Per the rules on a ground-rule double, only one run could score on Soto’s missile. The Rangers failed to plate Baker from first base.
The Rangers' defense started strong with an impressive relay gunning down Jose Altuve in an attempt at legging out a triple. Altuve’s hit got past a diving Rios is right field, who got up quickly to make a relay throw to Ian Kinsler, who threw a strike to Adrian Beltre for the third out of the first inning.
The assist was the ninth for Rios in 2013, which is tops among American League right fielders.
Profar added some fine glove work at shortstop behind Perez, with an impressive off-balance play in the shortstop hole in the seventh inning.
The Astros had the league’s 29th-ranked batting average entering Sunday’s game, but a complete-game four-hitter is nothing to sneeze at for Martin Perez. The Texas southpaw has an opponent batting average of just .159 in his last three starts.
The victory extends the Rangers' win streak to seven as they head into the fourth and final game of the series in Houston on Monday.
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