Martín Pérez allowed four hits over seven strong innings to extend his dominant undefeated streak and beat fellow All-Star Paul Blackburn, leading the Texas Rangers to an 11-8 victory over the Oakland Athletics on Sunday.
And in Seattle, Jose Altuve and Jeremy Peña hit back-to-back home runs off Robbie Ray to begin the game, and the Houston Astros roughed up the reigning AL Cy Young Award winner in an 8-5 victory over the Seattle Mariners that completed a three-game sweep.
Texas 11, Oakland 8: Pérez (8-2) had six strikeouts and won his career-best eighth straight decision. The first-time All-Star is unbeaten in his last 17 starts, passing Kyle Gibson for the Rangers' single-season franchise record.
The Rangers (43-51)
"I (didn't) even know that I have that kind of number," Pérez said. "I'm just looking to feel comfortable every time when I go out there. How I believe in myself now – I know who I am and what I can do on the mound – is great."
Texas nearly let it all go to waste.
Trailing 11-1, the A's scored four runs off Garrett Richards in the eighth, then hit three consecutive home runs off Brett Martin in the ninth. Martin got Stephen Piscotty to strike out swinging and Dermis Garcia grounded out to end it.
"I don't know if we took our foot off the gas a little bit but we weren't executing pitches," Rangers manager Chris Woodward said. "Brett's been so good for us but he kind of gave in on a lot of those pitches and gave them something over the heart of the plate to hit. He's better than that and he knows that."
Corey Seager hit his 23rd home run. Adolis García also connected and had a career-high four hits and three RBIs as the Rangers won for the second time in eight games. Jonah Heim matched a team record with three doubles on a day when eight Texas players had at least one hit and one RBI.
Mixing a strong slider and effective change-up, Pérez induced 11 groundouts and retired 11 of 12 before walking Dermis Garcia leading off the fifth. Garcia scored on Nick Allen's sacrifice fly.
"We needed him to go kind of deep," Woodward said. "We were running a little thin from yesterday's game and thank goodness he did because we needed all seven of those innings."
In three road starts against the A's this season, Pérez has a 0.90 ERA.
"When you're facing the same team a lot of times you have a better idea. Sometimes you have to change, but if you don't show me anything why do we need to change?" Pérez said. "How I move the ball I think is not comfortable for them, that's what I see."
Blackburn (6-6) is headed the opposite direction. Winless since June 16, the A's right-hander allowed 10 earned runs in 4 1/3 innings in his first start since the break. The 10 earned runs are tied for most in the majors this season.
"The first couple of innings I felt like I was just too quick and then I tried to slow down, and I felt like I was too slow," Blackburn said. "I tried to find a happy medium to get in a rhythm out there, and it just didn't happen."
García hit a towering two-run homer to left in the first, one pitch after Heim's RBI double. García also singled and scored in the third, walked and scored in the fifth, hit an RBI single in the sixth and singled again in the eighth.
Seager homered off Blackburn to jump-start a six-run fifth inning for Texas. Kole Calhoun had a two-run single in the frame while Ezequiel Duran, Josh Smith and Marcus Semien all drove in runs.
Piscotty homered as part of Oakland's four-run eighth.
The A's had won three straight before falling short of their first series sweep since last September.
Oakland's three straight home runs by Sean Murphy, Chad Pinder and Tony Kemp marked the first time since April 15, 2006, that the A's have gone back-to-back-to-back.
One day after a sliding back-handed catch in foul territory near the protective tarp while playing left field, Smith made another web gem – this time as a third baseman – when he chased down pinch-hitter Seth Brown's pop-up near the line in left field.
Seager left for unknown reasons in the sixth inning.
Right-hander Glenn Otto (4-6, 5.40 ERA) will make a second consecutive start against the Mariners on Monday in Seattle. Otto has lost four of his five start since coming off the Injured List.
For Oakland, right-hander Adam Oller (0-3, 8.56) faces the division-leading Astros on Monday in the first of three games against Houston.
Houston 8, Seattle 5: The Mariners had won 14 in a row before Houston arrived, but were stopped cold by the defending AL champions coming out of the All-Star break.
"We played good ball," Houston manager Dusty Baker said. "We held on a couple games, but our bullpen came through. Guys were operating on fumes, but they found some energy to win the game."
The Astros are 64-32, and head to Oakland next. They play at 7:40 p.m. tonight and Tuesday night, then a 2:30 p.m. game on Wednesday before heading home to begin another series against the Mariners on Thursday.
Ray (8-7) was tagged for six runs and 10 hits in three innings. Altuve sent the first pitch of the game into the left-field bleachers, Peña followed with his 14th homer and the Astros were off and running.
It was Altuve's 30th career leadoff homer. He leads the majors with eight this season.
"I think (Peña's) homer was even better," Altuve said. "Because that really set the tone for the other hitters."
Houston scored three more times on five consecutive hits to start the second, making it 5-0. In the third, Yuli Gurriel scored on a fielder's choice.
Meanwhile, the Mariners couldn't get much going against Valdez until the seventh, when Sam Haggerty hit a two-run triple with two outs. J.P. Crawford drove in Haggerty with a double, and Valdez was replaced by Seth Martinez. He struck out Ty France to end the inning.
Maldonado blooped a bases-loaded single into left field to score Alex Bregman and Aledmys Diaz in the eighth.
Abraham Toro hit a two-run homer for Seattle in the bottom half.
Houston closer Ryan Pressly returned from the paternity list and threw a perfect ninth inning for his 20th save. Pressly has retired 30 consecutive batters dating to June 25, setting a club record.
"It sounds good, but you're not really thinking about any of that when you're out there," Pressly said. "You're just trying to get three outs and do it anyway you can."
It was the second time this season the Astros swept the Mariners. The teams play a four-game series next weekend in Houston.
"We got beat," Seattle manager Scott Servais said. "They executed, they made pitches, they made plays, they got timely hits, and that is why they swept the series."