ARLINGTON, Texas — Martin Perez kept his pitches low in the zone and got plenty of help from the Texas defense.
Perez threw eight scoreless innings with the benefit of four double-play grounders, plus two runners thrown out trying to steal a base, and the Rangers got a series-clinching 1-0 victory over the Houston Astros on Sunday.
“That happens when you throw all your pitches down and you get a lot of groundballs,” Perez said. “If you can throw strikes with runners on base, you can get a win, you can get the outs. You have to make a pitch and trust your stuff.”
The lone run came on a sacrifice fly in the sixth by Donnie Murphy, who was in the game only because shortstop Elvis Andrus got ejected at the end of the third after taking a called third strike. Andrus tossed his bat away from the plate and then said something to home plate umpire Alan Porter.
“As soon as I saw (the ump) point at him, I automatically threw off the hoodie and got loose, so I didn’t really have much time to think about it,” said Murphy, who joined the Rangers at the end of spring training. “It’s always nice when you don’t start the game just to come in and contribute like that.”
Perez (2-0) struck out two while scattering five hits and three walks. Catcher Robinson Chirinos threw out would-be base stealers in the third and fifth innings.
Alexi Ogando worked a perfect ninth to convert his first save chance.
Murphy’s deep flyball to the left-center gap in the sixth sent home Josh Wilson against Brett Oberholtzer (0-3), who had a career-high seven strikeouts with no walks.
“Oberholtzer was outstanding. Our starters did a tremendous job this whole series. The starts put us in a position to win every game,” Astros manager Bo Porter said. “We’ve got to get (the offense) going. If you don’t score, you’ve got zero chance of winning.”