PHOENIX – Martin Perez struggled in his season debut, the offense didn’t produce until the ninth inning and the Texas Rangers couldn't pull off an improbable ninth-inning rally in a 5-3 loss to the Arizona Diamondbacks in Game 1 of Monday’s doubleheader at Chase Field.
The Rangers will look to rebound tonight in Game 2 behind Yu Darvish.
Perez, named the 26th man before the game, ran into trouble early. He gave up a two-out RBI single to Martin Prado in the first, and then allowed two runs (one earned) in the second inning on RBI hits by A.J. Pollock and Paul Goldschmidt.
Perez then worked two scoreless innings before allowing a solo homer to Cody Ross with one out in the fifth inning. He started the sixth, but issued a one-out walk to Cliff Pennington and a single to pinch-hitter Jason Kubel to end his day.
Perez took the loss, and has lost his last four starts in the big leagues. He was in line to be the Rangers' fifth starter in spring training, but broke his left arm and has been recovering from that. He had made four minor-league starts before Monday's outing.
The offense didn’t do much to help. The Rangers had base-runners reach the first five innings against D-backs starter Tyler Skaggs, but never capitalized.
Skaggs, a highly touted left-handed pitching prospect like Perez, scattered three hits over six innings with three walks and nine strikeouts.
The Rangers had their best chances the final three innings against the D-backs bullpen.
Geovany Soto led off the seventh with a single to left-center field, and Craig Gentry drew a walk. But Will Harris ended that threat by getting David Murphy to strike out, Elvis Andrus to fly out to shallow right and Jurickson Profar to strike out.
In the eighth, Nelson Cruz had a one-out double but Mitch Moreland and pinch-hitter Lance Berkman each struck out to end the inning.
The Rangers loaded the bases with one out in the ninth, forcing the D-backs to turn to closer Heath Bell. Bell, though, gave up an RBI single to Profar and a two-run single Adrian Beltre as the Rangers brought the go-ahead run to the plate. But Bell struck out Cruz and got Moreland to ground out to end the game.
-- Drew Davison