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TEX@OAK: Perez retires Donaldson to complete shutout

Two of the American League's top three ERA leaders will square off against each other at Globe Life Park on Tuesday evening.

Rangers lefty Martin Perez, tops with a 1.42 ERA, will be opposed by another southpaw in Scott Kazmir, who enters the game with a 1.62 mark for the first-place A's, good for third in the AL.

Oakland won the series opener by a 4-0 margin on Monday, though the Rangers still hold the season series edge, three games to one.

In making his sixth start of the year, Perez will attempt to extend his 26 innings scoreless streak, the fifth-longest by a starter in club history. The 23-year-old has thrown back-to-back three-hit shutouts after tossing eight scoreless innings in the start previous.

Perez's most recent shutout came in Oakland, where he blanked the A's on April 23. He is now 4-0 with a 1.42 ERA, and his two shutouts are two of just three thrown in the AL this season.

Perez said Monday he is well aware of his scoreless-innings streak and that he wouldn't expect to change anything against Oakland less than a week after facing them.

"Same approach," he said. "Throw the ball down and try to get hitters, that's all. Use all my pitches and throw quality pitches."

Relying heavily on his sinker, Perez got 17 ground-ball outs to only eight fly balls in his last start against the A's.

"My sinker is really nice -- I use it a lot," Perez said when asked to describe the key to his recent success. "First-pitch strikes, for me, that's big too. Every time I attack a hitter I get a quick out."

Said A's manager Bob Melvin: "We've probably seen him more than most teams over the years, but at times he pitches a little differently, too. Last time I don't think he was throwing as hard as we saw him the previous times, but he was moving it around better, and he kept the ball down. There's late movement to his pitches that keeps the ball off the barrel, and he's using the changeup more effectively than we've probably seen him."

Kazmir has been impressive all season long, most recently dispatching the Astros easily in his second straight start against the team, with one run allowed on five hits and two walks with seven strikeouts over six innings.

Oakland's $22 million southpaw, who has 31 strikeouts in 33 1/3 innings, is 5-0 with a 1.36 ERA and .192 opponents' average over his last seven starts dating back to Sept. 21. He's completed at least six innings in all of his five starts this year.

"It's important to be able to have that foundation early in the year and be able to kind of build on it throughout every start," Kazmir said. "I'm kind of in and out on how I feel stuff-wise, but just to stay within myself and make the adjustments as the game goes on is big for me."

A's: Cespedes' return to lineup still unclear

Yoenis Cespedes has missed four consecutive games, and the initial plan was to have him back Tuesday, but even that may now be in question.

Cespedes injured his left hamstring in Thursday's game in Houston, and the injury was immediately deemed a mild one. The A's still don't believe he'll need to go on the disabled list.

They're 2-3 this year in games Cespedes doesn't start, compared to 14-7 when he does.

Rangers: Choo expected back in starting lineup
Barring an unforeseen setback before Tuesday's game, Shin-Soo Choo expects to be back in the leadoff spot of the Rangers' lineup for the first time since April 21, when he injured his left ankle stepping on first while trying to beat out a grounder.

Choo did not start in six consecutive games, but the Rangers chose to wait his injury out rather than put him on the disabled list.

"Hopefully [Tuesday] we'll have him back," manager Ron Washington said. "We certainly feel good about what's going on."

Choo pinch-hit in the ninth inning in the first game of the Rangers-A's series at Globe Life Park. He said he had some concern about being able to step on first with the injured left foot, but was able to do so Monday without much pain.

Worth Noting

• The A's are 10-7 during a stretch of 19 consecutive games against American League West competition.

• Third baseman Josh Donaldson, the only A's player to start all 26 games, has reached base safely via hit or walk in each of his last 21 games.

• The Rangers have dropped three of their last four games but have still won 10 of 15 since a 5-6 start. Comments