ST. PETERSBURG -- Rangers starter Martin Perez is a really good pitcher at Globe Life Park. His 2.36 home ERA is the lowest in the American League.
The problem is Texas has to play half its games on the road, and that's a real problem for Perez. His troubles away from Arlington continued on Sunday afternoon in an 8-4 loss to the Rays at Tropicana Field.
Perez allowed six runs in six innings and is now 1-8 with a 6.23 ERA in 13 starts on the road. That's the highest road ERA in the AL among pitchers with at least 70 innings.
"I don't know," Perez said. "I have the same focus and the same hunger on the road and home. I don't understand why. I stay focused and do what I have to do."
The big inning is what stands out most. There seems to be one inning for Perez on the road where everything unravels and he has a hard time getting it back under control. That was the case on Sunday, as he took a 2-1 lead into the fourth and gave up five runs, capped by a three-run home run from Logan Forsythe.
"It's a challenge to recover from a five-run inning," manager Jeff Banister said. "That's the biggest thing -- Martin today, kind of the old nemesis of one big inning. Seemed to be a little bit challenged today with the mix. The fastball he was missing down, couldn't quite get to that mix that had been so successful in the last couple of outings, the fastball for strikes and the changeup for the swing-and-miss."
Perez has lost five straight starts on the road. In all five, he has allowed either a four- or five-run inning.
"They scored some runs, but I felt good," Perez said. "I felt good with my pitches, and there were some pitches they didn't swing at either. That's part of the game."
Given a 2-0 lead on Delino DeShields' home run in the top of third, Perez had the potential for a bad inning in the bottom half after a pair of walks put runners on first and second with two outs.
Evan Longoria followed with a double off the right-field wall to score one run, but Drew Stubbs made a nice play on the carom to keep a second run from scoring. Left fielder DeShields then made a terrific sliding catch on Brad Miller's shallow fly ball to end the inning.
But Perez couldn't take that escape and run with it. Tim Beckham led off the fourth with a double and scored on a single by Corey Dickerson. With runners on first and third and one out, Rays catcher Bobby Wilson dropped down a squeeze bunt. First baseman Ryan Rua tried for the play at the plate, but he was too late and the Rays took a 3-2 lead.
Rua's decision to throw home also left runners on first and second. Forsythe followed with his three-run home run.
"I think they hit good pitches," Perez said. "I was just trying to control emotions and slow it down. I was looking for the ground-ball double play, and they hit the ball to the outfield. Sometimes you don't get good results."
That's life on the road for Perez.
T.R. Sullivan has covered the Rangers since 1989, and for MLB.com since 2006. 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.