A three-run fifth inning changed the Rangers’ misfortunes with runners in scoring position and propelled Texas to a 5-1 win over Oakland Tuesday night.
A strikeout by Ian Kinsler and a groundout by Adrian Beltre in the third inning with runners on second and third pushed the Rangers’ hitless streak with runners in scoring position to 18 consecutive at-bats.
The first inning saw the Ranger offense strand two runners on base, including one 90 feet from home plate.
They just couldn’t score.
But after scoring just two runs in each of their last four games and stranding 11 men on base on Monday, the Rangers found a spark in the fifth.
Jurickson Profar lined a double off the right field wall to score Craig Gentry from first base to give Texas the lead. Kinsler ended the hitless streak with runners in scoring position with an infield single.
After Kinsler swiped second base, a chopper by Beltre and a two-out, broken-bat single by A.J. Pierzynski scored two more Ranger runs to make it a three-run lead.
Mitch Moreland had started the Ranger output with a fourth-inning home run off of Oakland starter Bartolo Colon.
Alex Rios sent an 0-1 pitch from Jesse Chavez over the center field fence for a solo home run to lead off the Ranger half of the eighth inning and cap the scoring effort from the guys donning red, white, and blue.
The five Ranger runs were more than enough to support a quality start by 22-year-old rookie Martin Perez.
Perez (9-3, 3.41ERA) threw seven innings, allowing just one run and striking out five.
Jed Lowrie poked a sacrifice fly to right field to plate the lone Oakland run in the first inning. Coco Crisp, who doubled to lead off the inning, scored on the play.
The lone three-up, three-down inning for Perez came in the fourth, as he allowed a hit in six of his seven innings. The first and third innings were the only innings in which he allowed multiple hits.
Josh Donaldson was thrown out at home, colliding with Pierzynski while trying to score from second on an infield hit to Profar at shortstop to end the third inning.
But despite the eight hits, Perez was dominant in keeping the Oakland offense at bay.
Only three A’s baserunners reached second base in the game, none of which came after the third inning.
Perez threw 95 pitches didn’t walk a batter en route to his ninth win of 2013, and his sixth consecutive start in which he earned a win for the Rangers.
In those six starts, Perez has a 2.76 ERA and 31 strikeouts. In his last four starts, the lefty has beaten Felix Hernandez twice, as well as Chris Sale and Colon.
He could be making a case for himself as the American League Rookie of the Year.
Tanner Scheppers worked around a leadoff double to record a 13-pitch, scoreless eighth inning, Joe Nathan entered the game in a non-save situation to record a scoreless ninth inning.
Win no. 80 of the season lifts the Rangers back into sole possession of first place in the AL West, one game ahead of the A’s. Game three of the series in Oakland is slated for 2:05 p.m. Wednesday.