Perez flashes big league stuff again

ARLINGTON, Texas -- Martin Perez had that big league look again Friday night. The Texas Rangers could get used to seeing this from their top pitching prospect.

Perez followed fellow left-hander Derek Holland's 92-pitch, two-hit shutout of the New York Yankees on Thursday with his second strong start since being called up from Triple-A Round Rock. Perez tossed 6 2/3 scoreless innings Friday night, taking advantage of exceptional defense for a 4-0 victory over the Cincinnati Reds at Rangers Ballpark.

Perez is giving a big boost to the Rangers' starting rotation. The 22-year-old allowed six hits, all singles. He hasn't allowed an extra-base hit in two straight starts. Perez is working on 11 2/3 innings of scoreless baseball going back to his win in St. Louis last Saturday.

He's taking it all in stride.

"I just want to continue to do the same job," Perez said. "I don't want to change my routine. I want to keep going and throw my changeup and sinker and fastball away."

Perez worked fast Friday, and that energized the defense behind him. His teammates made a ton of great plays for him, from turning two double plays to a pair of dazzling plays at shortstop by 20-year-old Jurickson Profar.

It's difficult to pick out the best ones. But certainly Profar's backhanded stop and long one-hop throw in the third inning, and a 5-4-3 double play in the fifth that included a great snag by third baseman Adrian Beltre and a stretch by first baseman Mitch Moreland were at the top of everyone's list.

"Great defense," Perez said. "It's amazing. When you have good tempo, your players can do the defense. That's what I like. I don't like to think too much on the mound because the guys behind me, they feel tired. I like to go quick and don't think too much."

Perez, who had 11 ground ball outs, was asked whether his infielders thanked him for his efficient work.

"Yes," Perez said. "Great plays."

Perez allowed two runs in the first two innings in his start in St. Louis. On Friday, he didn't let the Reds rally from a 1-0 deficit in the top of the second.

He allowed two singles to start the inning as Brandon Phillips and Jay Bruce reached base. Perez then snagged a ground ball back to the mound and turned a 1-4-3 double play on Reds third baseman Todd Frazier. A popup by Chris Heisey ended the inning.

"It was big important," Perez said of the double play. "After I threw that inning, I said there goes their chance."

Perez did find himself in trouble in the top of the seventh with the Rangers leading 4-0. He had thrown only 79 pitches, but a four-pitch walk to Heisey loaded the bases and brought manager Ron Washington out of the dugout. The move to the bullpen worked, as right-hander Jason Frasor threw one pitch and got the third out.

Perez said he wanted to try to finish the seventh inning but understands it wasn't his call.

"The manager has the last decision, and I can't say nothing," Perez said. "I just have to go to the mound until he decides to get me."

Perez has made a big impression on Washington, beating two quality opponents in St. Louis and Cincinnati.

"He's throwing strikes," Washington said. "He's pounding the strike zone. He's not getting caught in any patterns. He has good mound presence. All the above. He's doing everything he's supposed to do to be successful."