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Martin Perez, Price Fielder, Mitch Moreland power Texas Rangers past Pittsburgh Pirates

By
Lary Bump, The Sports Xchange
Texas Rangers pitcher Martin Perez.. Photo by Michael Prengler/UPI
Texas Rangers pitcher Martin Perez.. Photo by Michael Prengler/UPI | License Photo

ARLINGTON, Texas -- Martin Perez, Prince Fielder and Mitch Moreland have had difficulties this season, but that wasn't the case on Sunday afternoon.

Perez pitched out of trouble in the top of a pivotal fourth inning, and Fielder and Moreland hit home runs in the bottom of the inning to help the Texas Rangers beat the Pittsburgh Pirates 6-2.

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Pittsburgh already led 2-0 when Francisco Cervelli led off the fourth with a single and went to third base on a double by Sean Rodriguez. Perez (3-4) got two groundouts and threw a called third strike to Jordy Mercer to end the threat. He has now won back-to-back starts.

"The ability to get the ground-ball out," Rangers manager Jeff Banister said, "I think that was the biggest key for him today. Trusting that, trusting the process, knowing when and how to get the ground-ball outs."

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Fielder led off the Rangers' half of the inning against Francisco Liriano (4-4) with his third homer, his first in 35 games. After two walks, Moreland sent a fly ball into the upper deck in right field for his sixth homer of the season. He has homered in consecutive games after a 15-game drought.

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Fielder and Moreland led Texas with 23 homers apiece last year.

"They're big bats in our lineup," Banister said. "I believe in both of those guys, and our players in that clubhouse believe in the impact and what they're going to be able to do for us this year."

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Fielder entered the game batting .196 with just two homers. Moreland ended a 1-for-27 slump during the three-game series.

"Prince got us on the board with a home run, had a couple of walks there," Moreland said. "That's kind of the way it sets up against guys like that. You've just got to continue to grind and try to get a pitch in the zone. And that's what we were able to do."

The home runs were the 10th and 11th against Liriano this season, but were the first two by left-handed batters.

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"I was behind in the count a couple times," Liriano said. "I tried to go up and in. I just left it in the middle. Those two pitches like that changed the game."

Perez (3-4) also pitched out of trouble after the first two Pirates reached base in the sixth. In six innings, he allowed seven hits and a walk and struck out three. Twelve of his 18 outs were on ground balls.

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Pittsburgh batters were only 1-for-10 with runners in scoring position. The only hit was Andrew McCutchen's run-scoring double immediately after Mercer led off the game with a double.

After that, David Freese hit a grounder back to Perez, who turned and caught McCutchen off of second base.

"Now I'm more comfortable with runners on base and no outs," Perez said. "I just need to throw my pitch where I want.

"I got the chance to get (McCutchen) in a rundown and got him out. It was a good play to me. My job is to hold the game, and that's what I've been doing."

Freese hit his fourth homer with two outs in the third for the Pirates' other run. The ball hit the top of the right-center-field fence and bounced into the Rangers' bullpen.

"We played a good team, came up short the last two days," Pirates manager Clint Hurdle said.

NOTES: Pittsburgh 2B Josh Harrison didn't start for the fourth time in five games because of an undisclosed illness. He started Friday's game, but left in the sixth inning. ... Pirates RF Gregory Polanco was rested against LHP Martin Perez. Polanco is batting .367 with two home runs and eight RBIs during a seven-game hitting streak. ... SS Jordy Mercer's first-inning double was his only hit in 14 at-bats during the three-game series. In his only other game at Texas on Sept. 10, 2013, Mercer went 4-for-5. ... On Monday, Pittsburgh begins a four-game series at Miami. It was moved from San Juan, Puerto Rico, because of concerns about the Zika virus. ... The Rangers set their rotation for their series at Cleveland -- LHP Derek Holland (3-4) on Monday, RHP Colby Lewis (4-0) on Tuesday and LHP Cole Hamels (4-1) on Wednesday. ... Texas CF Ian Desmond singled to extend his hitting streak to seven games. He had multiple hits in five of those games and a .424 average (14 for 33) during the streak. ... Rangers SS Elvis Andrus was rested, with Hanser Alberto starting in Andrus' place. ... Texas 3B Adrian Beltre is tied with ex-Ranger Nelson Cruz for the most home runs (13) in Yu Darvish's starts.

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