Perez happy to be back on big league hill

Recovered from Tommy John surgery, Rangers lefty allows three runs in first start since May 2014

Perez happy to be back on big league hill

HOUSTON -- Rangers starter Martin Perez gave his team five solid innings Friday night. He ended up taking the loss, but it was still a commendable effort for a pitcher making his first Major League start in 14 months and underscored his nervousness by walking the first batter on four pitches.

"I felt he threw the ball well," Rangers manager Jeff Banister said after a 3-2 loss to the Astros on Friday night at Minute Maid Park.

"He had good angle and good movement on his fastball and the velocity with it," Banister said. "The velocity was up to 94 ([mph]. He got some pitches up to some good hitters, but his breaking ball was sharp."

Perez threw 86 pitches, allowing three runs on nine hits. He walked two, struck out two and induced the Astros to ground into three double plays.

"This tells me I can compete up here," Perez said. " I can do the job. It was a great night. We didn't get the win, but I thought I did a good job."

Perez's last start was on May 10, 2014, against the Red Sox. He underwent Tommy John elbow reconstruction surgery nine days later.

Getting the double plays was a good sign. In 2013-14, Perez averaged 1.33 double plays per nine innings, the fourth best-ratio by a Major League pitcher with at least 150 innings pitched in that two-year period.

"I'm sure he was amped up and a little anxious," Banister said. "But he settled in and gave us a chance."

Gattis' leadoff triple

The Astros scored one off him in the second after Evan Gattis tripled to deep center as Leonys Martin just missed making a terrific catch near the wall. Gattis scored on a single by L.J. Hoes.

The Astros added two more in the third. Jake Marisnick led off with a double and scored on a double by Jose Altuve. Marwin Gonzalez followed with a single to center and Martin threw out Altuve trying to score. But Gonzalez went to second on the throw and scored on a single by Carlos Correa.

"A couple of mistakes -- I was trying to get the ball down and they came up," Perez said. "That was part of the adrenaline. But I did my best. It's different here than Triple-A. You can't miss a pitch here."

T.R. Sullivan is a reporter for MLB.com. Read his blog, Postcards from Elysian Fields, follow him on Twitter @Sullivan_Ranger and listen to his podcast. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.