Perez will try to build off the momentum generated from his last outing when he takes the ball for the Pirates in the opener of a four-game series with the Cincinnati Reds.
In his 30 starts last season, Perez went 12-10 with a 2.98 ERA and struck out 239—the third most in franchise history. His 10.97 strikeouts per nine innings was the best in baseball.
However, Perez got off to a terrible start this season, allowing at least five earned runs in five of his first seven starts. He missed a start after an 8-4 loss to Arizona on May 6 to rest his sore left shoulder and to work on his mechanics.
Perez responded with his second effective outing of the season as he allowed two earned runs and two hits over five innings in an 8-3 win over Colorado on Saturday.
“I was just as anxious as anyone to see what we would get,” manager Lloyd McClendon said. “Obviously, he was a little rusty but, overall, we’re pleased. What I liked was his slider was biting the way it did last year … and he finished guys off.”
Perez needed 57 pitches to get through the first three innings, but did not allow a hit. He finished with four walks and eight strikeouts.
“I tried to think like this was my first start and to just forget about all that happened,” Perez said.
Losers of four straight, the Pirates will try to turn things around following Wednesday’s 11-5 defeat to St. Louis. Ty Wigginton hit two homers for Pittsburgh, and Freddy Sanchez added a pinch-hit two-run double.
The Reds completed a three-game sweep of Washington with Wednesday’s 12-3 win. Cincinnati matched its season high for runs and swept a series for the first time since winning three straight against the New York Mets to open the season.
Ken Griffey Jr., batting third for the first time this season, had three hits. His fifth-inning single snapped an 0-for-16 slump.