Martin Perez put Boston’s leadoff hitter on base in seven innings. Then the left-hander pitched Texas out of jams by getting five double plays.
That helped the Rangers withstand a late rally and beat the Red Sox 10-7 on Tuesday night.
The double play is “a pitcher’s best friend,” Texas manager Ron Washington said. “They got on base, but he was able to eliminate them.”
Boston’s five double plays were one fewer than the American League record for a nine-inning game shared by eight teams. The major league mark of seven was set by the San Francisco Giants in 1969.
“Five double plays and we scored seven runs. I’m sure that’s pretty rare, too,” Jonny Gomes said after Boston’s fourth loss in five games. “If we can score seven runs with five double plays, I think we’re scratching the surface on the positive side.”
The Red Sox grounded into double plays by Dustin Pedroia in the first inning, A.J. Pierzynski in the second, Jackie Bradley Jr. in the third, Ryan Roberts in the fifth and Pedroia in the sixth.
Perez (1-0) allowed four runs and eight hits in 6 1-3 innings.
“I’m not a power pitcher,” he said. “I’m a groundball pitcher and when you throw good pitches down in the zone that happens.”
Robinson Chirinos started a five-run third inning with his first homer of the season and the Rangers led 9-1 through six. Boston scored three runs in the seventh and, after Michael Choice made it 10-4 with a sacrifice fly in the ninth, the Red Sox scored three times in the bottom of the inning on an RBI single by Gomes and a two-run double by David Ortiz against Joakim Soria.
Mike Napoli, who had three singles for the second straight game, struck out to end it.
The Rangers finished with 13 hits, the first time in six games that they had at least 10. And they were 7 for 15 with runners in scoring position one night after going 0 for 8 in a 5-1 loss in the opener of the three-game series.
But designated hitter Adrian Beltre left in the sixth with tightness in the front of his left thigh and was to return to Texas to be examined. He was bothered by tightness on the side of that thigh in spring training.
“We had an 8-1 lead,” said Washington, who didn’t know how serious the injury was. “He aggravated it. I don’t see why I should leave him in there.”
Texas won for the second time in five games as every starter reached base by the fourth inning.
Chirinos’ second career homer broke a scoreless tie and began an inning in which the Rangers batted around against Felix Doubront (1-1).
Shin-Soo Choo singled with one out and scored on a two-out double by Prince Fielder, who entered the game with four hits in 28 at-bats and just one RBI. The other runs scored on a single by Beltre, a double by Donnie Murphy and a bases-loaded walk to Chirinos.
“Once we’re down five, even though we got a number of leadoff hitters on base, we’ve got to be a little bit protective of just giving away outs,” Boston manager John Farrell said. “It was the groundball double play that snuffed everything out.”
The Rangers added three runs in the fourth against Burke Badenhop. Choo led off with a walk, went to second on a single by Elvis Andrus and scored on a single by Fielder. Beltre followed with a run-scoring double and Murphy made it 8-0 with a sacrifice fly.
Boston scored in the fourth on a double by Pedroia and a single by Napoli.
Texas got that run back in the fifth on doubles by Chirinos and Choo.
Adding on runs at Fenway Park is important, “especially late in this ballpark,” Washington said. “Those guys have taken a lot of ballgames away, so every time you get an opportunity to put a run on the board you want to do it.”
The Red Sox cut the lead to 9-4 in the seventh on an RBI single by Pierzynski and a two-run double by Bradley.