Martin Perez battles back from shaky start

OAKLAND, Calif. -- For a moment, it appeared as if the Rangers' Martin Perez would not get out of the first inning for the second consecutive start. He gave up back-to-back singles to start the inning and then, after a double play, added two walks, a single and a balk.

But after all of that, he retired Stephen Drew and only gave up two runs. And he settled down, getting his club into the fifth and still in the game.

"We had a rough start, but Perez hung in and gave us a chance," catcher Mike Napoli said. "We told him to use more of the middle of the plate and get ahead. His stuff is good and we were telling him that. If you pitch in the strike zone and your stuff is good, you'll miss barrels and get some outs. We told him that and he started getting outs."

Starting with the final out of the first, Perez retired 10 of his next 11 batters until running into trouble in the fifth. He gave up doubles to Adam Rosales and Coco Crisp and was taken out of the game in favor of Scott Feldman. When it was all done, Perez allowed four runs on six hits with two walks, three strikeouts and a costly balk.

That balk came in the first with the bases loaded. Perez said it wasn't nerves that caused it, though he admitted he was nervous earlier in the inning.

"I just stepped off with my foot and didn't think about it," Perez said through an interpreter.

The balk scored Chris Carter from third. Perez then got out of the inning, but it gave the A's early momentum.

"I thought he settled down after the first inning," Rangers manager Ron Washington said. "He made some pitches and got us into the fifth. When you looked at the way things were going in the first inning you weren't sure he was going to be able to get out of it, but he did and he was able to settle down."