PITTSBURGH (AP) — Martín Pérez pitched seven strong innings, Marcus Semien hit the 16th leadoff homer of his career and the Texas Rangers held off the Pittsburgh Pirates 3-2 on Wednesday.
Pérez (6-1) allowed two runs on six hits with two walks and three strikeouts to win his fifth straight decision. The 32-year-old left-hander kept the Pirates in check, inducing 12 groundball outs, including a pair of inning-ending double plays.
Will Smith struck out Jack Suwinski with the bases loaded in the eighth then worked a ninth for his ninth save. Texas won for the fifth time in six games to move 13 games over .500 (31-18) for the first time since the end of the 2016 season.
Semien took the second pitch of the game from Johan Oviedo (3-4) and sent it into the left-field stands for his eighth home run of the season, extending his hitting streak to 14 games in the process.
Josh Jung and Nathaniel Lowe had two hits each for Texas, which got all the offense needed during a three-run first against Oviedo.
Oviedo bounced back quickly. He retired 12 straight at one point, a stretch that included the second “immaculate inning” thrown by a Pirate this season.
The 25-year-old Oviedo needed nine pitches — all strikes — to retire the Rangers in order in the fourth inning, the last a 98 mph fastball on the outside that Josh Smith could only stare at as it crossed the plate.
Pittsburgh joined the Houston Astros as the only team to record multiple immaculate innings in the same month since 2000. Reliever Colin Holderman struck out the side against Tampa Bay on May 4. Houston pitchers Phil Maton and Luis Garcia recorded the feat in June 2022.
Oviedo gave up three runs in 5 2/3 with two walks and five strikeouts as Pittsburgh fell to 5-15 in May.
A night after baserunning mistakes cost them in a 6-1 loss, the Pirates appeared to let a run get away in the second when Rodolfo Castro stopped midway between third and home on an RBI single by Jason Delay. Castro got an excellent break on the ball and was on the heels of teammate Connor Joe by the time he rounded third before putting on the brakes.
The Pirates couldn’t add on to finish the inning, fitting on a day they left eight men on and went 2 for 9 with runners in scoring position.
Castro and Delay had two of Pittsburgh’s eight hits.
Rangers: Held SS Ezequiel Duran out of the lineup with what manager Bruce Bochy described as back tightness. Duran tweaked his back during a swing in the eighth inning on Tuesday. … RHP prospect Kumar Rocker, the third overall pick in the 2022 draft, underwent Tommy John surgery on Monday after tearing a ligament in his right elbow.
Pirates: RHP Vince Velasquez (right elbow) will travel with the team during its upcoming road trip, hinting he could return to the rotation sometime in the next week. … 1B/DH Ji-Man Choi (Achilles strain) will also travel with the club so it can monitor his progression as he begins a running program.
Rangers: Are off Thursday then head to Baltimore for an early test against the impressive Orioles. Jon Gray (4-1, 3.02 ERA) starts for Texas in the opener.
Pirates: Begin a six-game West Coast swing with a three-game set in Seattle. Emerging ace Mitch Keller (5-1, 2.44 ERA) faces George Kirby (5-3, 2.62) on Friday.
For more local and national news, visit KPYN.net.