St. Louis, MO – Nelson Cruz clubbed a two-run homer and the Texas Rangers received seven strong innings from Martin Perez in a 4-2 victory over the St. Louis Cardinals.
Cruz's two-run ninth inning single vaulted Texas to a 6-4 victory in the opener of this three-game interleague set, and his homer on Saturday snapped a tie game in the third inning.
Perez (1-1) then carried the Rangers from there.
Recalled from Triple-A Round Rock earlier in the day to make his eighth career start, the left-handed Perez yielded two runs on five hits and retired the last 10 batters he faced.
"I've always seen the stuff, but this is the first time he's shown he's a big league pitcher," said Texas manager Ron Washington.
Tyler Scheppers tossed a scoreless eighth and Joe Nathan worked a perfect ninth to notch his 24th save and secure the Rangers' fourth straight win.
Texas reached rookie Shelby Miller (8-5) for eight hits and four runs. Miller lasted 5 2/3 innings and struck out five in defeat.
"You just got to tip your cap to an offensive lineup like that," said Miller. "They're a good team over there, and you can't make too many mistakes with them."
Carlos Beltran scored the game's first run in the first, beating Texas center fielder Leonys Martin's throw to the plate on a base hit from Allen Craig.
A.J. Pierzynski's two-run homer to right in the second sent the Rangers in front, 2-1, but the Cards drew even when David Freese led off the bottom half of the frame with a triple and then tagged on Shane Robinson's sac fly.
The Rangers took the lead for good, however, the following frame when Cruz sent his 19th homer of the season into the seats in right for a 4-2 Texas cushion.
St. Louis went hitless for Perez's final three innings, and spoiled its last chance when Scheppers replaced him in the eighth.
Matt Carpenter and Beltran each reached with one-out singles, but the Cardinals' scoring chance evaporated when Matt Holiday hit into an inning ending double play.
Texas optioned pitcher Joseph Ortiz to Triple-A Round Rock prior to the game to make room on the roster for Perez ... Carpenter, Beltran and Freese each had two hits for St. Louis ... Michael Blazek, who was recalled from Triple-A Memphis before the contest, made his major league debut for St. Louis. He worked the ninth inning and struck out a pair ... The Cardinals optioned pitcher Tyler Lyons to Memphis to open a roster spot for Blazek.