The Texas Rangers are looking to re-establish their dominance against the Houston Astros.
Giving the ball to Martin Perez could help.
Perez will try to help the Rangers bounce back from a rare defeat to the Astros by continuing his success against them in the finale of this three-game set in Arlington.
Texas (5-6) lost 6-5 in 10 innings to Houston on Saturday, ending its 12-game winning streak in the all-time series. Despite the defeat, the Rangers still hold a dominating 22-3 record over the past 25 matchups, including a 12-2 mark at home.
Perez (1-0, 4.50 ERA) will now try to prevent Texas from dropping back-to-back meetings in the Lone Star Series for the first time since 2008. The team hasn't dropped a series to the Astros (5-7) since losing two of three in 2006.
The left-hander, though, won both of his starts against them as a rookie last year, yielding four runs with 16 strikeouts in 16 innings. That includes a four-hitter while fanning eight batters in a 6-1 victory in his only appearance in Houston on Aug. 11, 2013.
He's enters this matchup facing a Houston team ranked last in the majors with a .189 average.
That could be just what Perez needs to improve upon his first win of the season. The left-hander allowed four runs and eight hits in 6 1-3 innings of Tuesday's 10-7 victory at Boston. He put the leadoff hitter on base in every inning, but got out of jams by inducing five double plays.
"I'm not a power pitcher," Perez said. "I'm a groundball pitcher and when you throw good pitches down in the zone that happens."
That hasn't been the case against Chris Carter, who is 6 for 11 with two homers and one double off him. The first baseman had one hit and two walks Saturday, but is hitting .158 so far this season.
Houston will turn to Brett Oberholtzer (0-2, 4.91), who surely wouldn't mind getting some help from Carter and the rest of the lineup as he tries to get his first win since beating Seattle on Sept. 1.
The left-hander has lost six straight starts since, but he's not entirely to blame since he's compiled a 3.41 ERA while being backed by six total runs.
Run support was an issue again Tuesday, when Oberholtzer allowed three runs and three hits in 5 1-3 innings while the Astros backed him with one run in a 5-2 loss at Toronto.
Oberholtzer didn't get any help in his most recent meeting with the Rangers on Aug. 12, yielding two runs in 6 2-3 innings while the offense's only hit was a solo homer by Carlos Corporan in a 2-1 defeat.
He also won't have to contend with Adrian Beltre, who is 3 for 4 against him.
Beltre has missed three games with a left quad strain, and could be headed for the disabled list.
"We're probably erring on the side of being cautious," general manager Jon Daniels told the team's official website.
Texas, though, could use a bounce-back effort from Shin-Soo Choo, who struck out in all five at-bats Saturday as his average plummeted 45 points to .308.
He's a mere 4 for 28 (.143) in eight meetings with the Astros.
Elvis Andrus, meanwhile, has three hits in this series while extending his season-opening hitting streak to 11 games. The shortstop has a .333 average over his past 14 home meetings with Houston.