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NEW YORK (AP) — Martin Perez headed straight to the video room after being hit hard in his previous start. What he saw may have led to his longest outing in over two years.
Perez allowed three hits over eight innings, Joey Gallo hit his 32nd home run and the Texas Rangers beat the New York Mets 5-1 on Wednesday for a two-game split.
"Last time I felt that they knew what pitch was coming," Perez said.
After noticing his glove was positioned close to his waist prior to each pitch, Perez decided to bring the leather closer to his mouth. He also made an effort to take less time between pitches.
"I've got a better tempo," Perez said. "I take the ball and I just go back to the mound and throw the pitch."
He completed eight innings for the first time since getting 25 outs on Aug. 2, 2015.
"Probably the best outing he's had all year long," manager Jeff Banister said. "Great rhythm and tempo."
Texas went ahead 3-0 in the first against Rafael Montero (1-8) when the pitcher balked with Shin-Soo Choo taking a sizable and distracting lead off of third, and Gallo hit a two-run drive into the upper deck in right, his AL-leading 11th home run since the All-Star break.
"You look at my at-bats from earlier in the year and I was pulling everything," Gallo said. "It doesn't just happen overnight, but I'm starting to feel a lot better with it and those pitches on the outer half that I was missing early in the year now I'm getting at least the barrel to it."
Elvis Andrus grounded into a forceout in the second, and advanced on three straight pitches when he stole second and third, and then slid home headfirst ahead of shortstop Amed Rosario's throw on Nomar Mazara's grounder.
Perez (6-10) did not allow a hit until Wilmer Flores homered leading off the fifth, a drive off an orange M&M sign that initially was ruled a double but was changed after a video review. Perez struck out five and walked none. He had a 9.41 ERA in losing his previous four starts.
"It's nice to give our pitching staff some breathing room," Adrian Beltre said.
Originally scheduled to start this weekend at home, Perez moved up after Andrew Cashner was scratched with a stiff neck on Tuesday.
"He had a good sinker going. He was kind of getting in on lefties. He had a good changeup to throw to the right-handers, mix in a slider here and there," said the Mets' Michael Conforto, who was 0 for 4. "He was just hitting his spots, was not walking guys. Just attacking guys and getting early contact."
Alex Claudio pitched a perfect ninth to complete a three-hitter.
Montero was remarkably inefficient and struggled to throw his changeup, needing 40 pitches to get through the first inning and 74 through the first two. He left after three innings and 87 pitches, allowing four runs, five hits, three walks and two hit batters. Montero is 0-4 in seven starts since winning at San Francisco on June 25.
"I think the changeup for me is a really important one," Montero said through a translator. "Today was just a bad day. Pitchers go through that sometimes where a pitch they really trust doesn't really work on a certain day."
Mets pitchers needed 124 pitches to get through five innings and 210 in all. New York (50-61) dropped 11 games under .500, matching its low since July 2014.
Hansel Robles walked Drew Robinson with the bases loaded in the sixth.
Texas stranded 15 runners and was 3 for 15 with runners in scoring position.
"We've got to get better in those spots," Banister said.
CLIMBING THE RANKS
Beltre had two hits, raising his total to 3,008 and passing Al Kaline for sole possession of 29th place.
Texas recalled INF Tyler Smith from Round Rock and optioned RHP Nick Martinez to the Triple-A farm team. Smith was claimed on waivers from Seattle on July 30, and the 26-year-old rookie hit .188 in 10 games with the Mariners. Martinez was sent down so that he could continue to start on a regular basis, according to Banister.
Rangers: 2B Rougned Odor was out of the starting lineup after being hit on the left foot by an errant pitch Tuesday night. "Precautionary more than anything else," Banister said. Odor struck out as a pinch hitter in the eighth and remained in the game at second base. ... Cashner (stiff neck) has made some positive progress since being scratched on Tuesday. "It still hurts a little bit, but my movement is definitely better today than it was yesterday," he said before the game. Cashner will continue treatment and may start this weekend.
Mets: RHP Matt Harvey (stress injury to right shoulder) said he felt fine, a day after throwing batting practice. "He wants to get out and start pitching in some games," manager Terry Collins said. "He's raring to make the next step."
Rangers: LHP Cole Hamels (6-1) is to start Friday's series opener against visiting Houston. He is coming off a four-hit complete game win at Minnesota.
Mets: RHP Jacob deGrom (12-5) starts Thursday in the first game of a four-game series at Philadelphia. DeGrom has lost two straight starts after winning eight in a row.
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