Martin Perez gives Rangers quality start

ARLINGTON, Texas -- The Texas Rangers dropped the middle game of their three-game set with the Boston Red Sox, 2-1, on Tuesday night, but it wasn't because of Martin Perez.

The 21-year-old -- starting for Colby Lewis, who is out for the rest of the season with a torn flexor tendon -- was as good as the Rangers could've hoped for. He allowed just one run on five hits in six innings against one of the best offensive clubs in the AL. The Red Sox got to Joe Nathan in the ninth to even the series at a game apiece.

"I thought he did an excellent job," manager Ron Washington said. "He got us through six innings. He was battling a little bit. He showed that he doesn't give in. He competed. I was very happy with what he gave us."

It was the second night in a row that the Rangers had someone step up in a fill-in role. Scott Feldman was as good as he's been all season in Monday's series opener, and Perez delivered much of the same Tuesday.

"I felt good," Perez said through translator Eleno Ornelos. "I know that in the major leagues it's different. What I have to do is not think too much. I just have to execute, do my job and get better."

Perez had his good stuff working all night. The only thing that could've been better was his command. The left-hander got behind on a lot of hitters. However, he was able to work himself out of trouble for much of the night. His only blemish came in the fourth inning when he walked Cody Ross to start the frame. He recorded two consecutive outs after that, but catcher Kelly Shoppach delivered an RBI double over the head of Rangers right fielder David Murphy.

Perez knows he has to get better at getting ahead of big league hitters. With that being said, he did hold down the Boston offense through six innings. He said he felt as though he could've kept going, but Washington elected to hand the game over to the bullpen.

"After the fifth and sixth innings, I was feeling great," Perez said. "The more that I throw, I get better. What I have to do is try not to get behind in the count. I have to be ahead in the count and try to get the job done."

Perez gave the Rangers an opportunity to clinch the three-game series, but he also helped them out in another huge way. He didn't lock up another start like Feldman did on Monday, but he certainly helped his potential trade value.

The trade deadline is a week away (July 31), and it only makes sense that the Texas front office will get a deal done for a proven starting pitcher with the loss of Lewis. The Rangers have several prospects they could potentially use in trade talks, and there's no doubt Perez is right at the top of suitors' lists.

There were scouts in attendance Tuesday night to watch Perez, and the Rangers have to feel good about how much value the youngster has.