|Date of game: 4/23/2014
Texas Rangers (13-8) at Oakland Athletics (13-7), 3:35 p.m. (ET)
(SportsNetwork.com) - Two pitchers seeking their fourth win of the season square off on Wednesday when Martin Perez and the Texas Rangers close out a three-game series against Sonny Gray and the Oakland Athletics at O.co Coliseum.
Perez has been terrific for the Rangers in the early-going and comes into today's finale on the heels of his first big league shutout. Perez three-hit the Chicago White Sox on Friday to run his record to 3-0, while lowering his ERA to 1.86.
"If I continue to do what I'm doing, this could be a big year for me," said Perez, who also struck out eight batters. "My sinker was working in the first inning, and after that I was able to throw the ball where I wanted it."
Perez has faced the A's five times and is 2-3 with a 5.79 ERA.
Oakland, meanwhile, will counter with an undefeated hurler of its own in Gray, who is 3-0 with a 1.80 ERA. Gray won his third straight start on Friday against Houston, but wasn't particularly sharp, as he surrendered three runs and nine hits in six innings.
The righty, who walked two and struck out four while throwing 106 pitches, is undefeated since Sept. 11. Gray has averaged more than six runs of support in his 14 career starts.
Gray has never faced the Rangers.
Texas won again on Tuesday, as Michael Choice capped a two-run ninth inning with an RBI single, lifting the Rangers to a 5-4 win.
Holding a 4-3 lead, the A's sent Luke Gregerson (0-1) to the mound in the top of the ninth. Pinch-hitter Mitch Moreland led off with a double to right and moved to third on a sacrifice bunt, but was tagged out at the plate on Leonys Martin's squeeze bunt. Martin stole second and raced home on Josh Wilson's double to left. Choice then followed with an RBI single to center.
Joakim Soria retired the side in order in the bottom half of the ninth to pick up his fifth save of the season. Alexi Ogando (1-1) recorded the final out in the eighth to pick up the win.
"I think it speaks volumes about our team and what we have been able to do where we have done it a number of times now late in games," said Moreland. "We've had some really good wins and we play all 27 (outs)."
Texas starter Nick Martinez, who was recalled from Double-A Frisco prior to Tuesday's game, gave up four runs -- two earned -- on six hits with three walks over five innings. The right-hander made his second career start.
Tommy Milone allowed three runs on five hits with four walks over six innings for the A's, who have lost two straight games for the first time this season.
"You can look at what happened in the ninth inning and then you can look a little farther into the game," A's manager Bob Melvin said. "You know it's usually not what happens in the last inning, a lot of times it's what transpired during the middle innings and opportunities earlier."
All the news was not great for the Rangers, as third baseman and reigning AL Player of the Week Kevin Kouzmanoff had to leave the game with back tightness and is questionable for Wednesday's finale.
Oakland narrowly edged the Rangers, 10-9, in the season series a year ago.