ARLINGTON, Texas -#8212; Derek Norris and the Oakland Athletics wasted no time changing their fortunes against Texas left-hander Martin Perez.
The A's went ahead to stay in their 9-3 victory Tuesday night on Norris' two-run double in the first off Perez, whose 26 consecutive scoreless innings over his previous three starts included a three-hit shutout in Oakland six days earlier.
"We just had to get the ball up in the zone. He's a great groundball pitcher, he gets a lot of double plays," Norris said. "He was living down there in the zone, and we weren't biting on it and he had to elevate to get the strikes. ... When he got in a situation with runners on, we cashed in some runs."
When Norris added an RBI double to make it 4-0 in the third, the A's already had six hits off Perez (4-1), who started the night with an AL-best 1.42 ERA.
"Well, we got on him early today and typically with a good pitcher like that who's on a roll, your best chance is early on before he gets settled in," Oakland manager Bob Melvin said. "If he gets into a rhythm as we saw last time, we're going to have a little trouble with him."
Scott Kazmir (4-0) needed 95 pitches to get through five innings, but left with a 9-3 lead and tied for tops in the AL with his fourth victory. The lefty struck out four and walked one.
The eight runs allowed by Perez were two more than his combined total through his first five starts, and his ERA more than doubled to 2.95. He struck out three and walked three in 4 2/3 innings.
"They looked more aggressive tonight, and (a) couple of pitches (were) up," Perez said. "When I got the ball down I got a couple of good outs. Tonight, it didn't happen how I wanted."
Oakland, swept in three games at home by the Rangers last week, has won the first two games in this series that started with the teams tied atop the AL West.
At 17-10, the A's have the best record in the American League. Texas (15-12) has its first three-game losing streak this season.
A's right-hander Sonny Gray, who lost in the matchup against Perez last week, reached four wins by throwing a three-hit shutout in the series opener. Gray beat Rangers ace Yu Darvish, who with 3 1/3 innings had his shortest start in three seasons since coming over from Japan.
Perez and Toronto's Mark Buehrle were the only other AL pitchers who went into Tuesday with four wins.
When Craig Gentry led off the second with a triple, the A's already had three hits -#8212; matching through seven batters what they got against Perez last week. Gentry scored on a groundout by Josh Reddick, who added a two-run single in Oakland's five-run
"They were taking those low pitches, forcing him to bring the ball a little up in the strike zone," Rangers catcher Robinson Chirinos said. "They put a good swing on everything he was throwing up in the strike zone. I think that was the difference