NEW YORK -- The Rangers' post-All-Star struggles may have hurt their standing amongst contenders, but Texas proved Wednesday that it still has plenty of life. Behind Martin Perez's resurgent start and Joey Gallo's continued otherworldliness, the Rangers pounded out a 5-1 win over the Mets to secure a 3-3 road trip through Minnesota and New York.
In so doing, the Rangers moved within four games of an American League Wild Card spot.
"Obviously, we'd like to be better than that," Rangers manager Jeff Banister said of the road trip. "We talk about stacking wins on top [of one another]. But as long as we salvaged a win today, a .500 trip, go home, and see if we can capitalize on being at home."
Perez did not allow a hit until the fifth, completing eight innings of one-run ball on just 89 pitches. Gallo, who will wear the nickname "Joe Joe" on the back of his jersey for Players Weekend, also socked his seventh home run in eight games, and the Rangers never looked back, splitting their two-game series at Citi Field.
"I think it was the changeup that [Perez] got in play that really allowed him to be so effective," Banister said. "Changeup down, four-seam up, was really the main attack for him today."
The Mets could not recover from another brief start by Rafael Montero, who fell to 0-4 with a 6.48 ERA since the start of July. In just three innings, Montero walked three batters, allowed five hits, plunked Carlos Gomez twice, allowed a pair of stolen bases and balked home a run.
"I think it was just a bad day," Montero said through an interpreter. "I'll keep working hard. Anybody can have a bad day. Today was one of them."
MOMENTS THAT MATTERED Quick lead: All told, Montero threw 40 pitches in a first-inning saga that included a run-scoring balk, a walk, a hit batsman, some questionable defense and an upper-deck home run. The latter came courtesy of Gallo, who parked a two-run shot -- his 32nd of the season -- into the Coca-Cola Corner in right.
"Any time that you can get on the board first and try and create some separation for yourself is crucial," Banister said. "As we look at it, the three-run inning was really the one that got the game in position for us."
No more zeroes: Perez lost both his no-hit and shutout bids on the same pitch, a fifth-inning, 91-mph fastball that Wilmer Flores hit just above Citi Field's orange home run line for a solo shot. Initially, umpires ruled Flores' hit a double, but a replay review showed that it struck the railing just above the 358-foot sign in left-center field. Up to that point, Perez had allowed just one baserunner on a hit batsman.
"It's tough," Mets manager Terry Collins said. "To get back in it, you need your lineup to produce, to do what they're supposed to be doing, and do what they're capable of doing. Right now, we've got some guys that aren't hitting. It seems like we're looking at one or two guys to carry the load when it's got to be a team effort."
"I thought that was a big hit for him, to get him going." -- Collins, on Mets shortstop Amed Rosario, who snapped an 0-for-13 skid with an eighth-inning single
"If we can continue to create opportunities for ourselves, we're gonna score some runs." -- Banister, on scoring runs despite going 3-for-15 with runners in scoring position and leaving 15 men on base
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Banging out two more hits to increase his career total to 3,008, Rangers third baseman Adrian Beltre passed Al Kaline for 29th place on Major League Baseball's all-time list. Next up is Wade Boggs, who ranks 28th with 3,010 hits.
WHAT'S NEXT Rangers: The Rangers will spend their off-day back home in Texas before kicking off a 10-game homestand, which begins Friday against the first-place Astros. Cole Hamels will start for the Rangers, and the team has won all four of Hamels' starts vs. Houston. First pitch is set for 7:05 p.m. CT.
Mets: One of the Mets' shortest road trips of the season takes them to Philadelphia for four games, before they head back up the Jersey Turnpike for a pair of Subway Series "road" games against the Yankees. Jacob deGrom will start the Mets' 7:05 p.m. ET opener Thursday at Citizens Bank Park, opposite right-hander Vince Velasquez.