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On short rest, Perez rises to the occasion

BOSTON -- All night long, Braves starter Williams Perez had been working with men on base. And in every one of those situations, the right-hander worked a little magic on the mound to wiggle out of trouble during Monday's 4-2 victory over the Red Sox.

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"I didn't hear anything," Perez said through a translator. "I was just concentrating."

Neither the short rest nor the throngs of energetic fans at Fenway Park could phase Perez, who improved to 3-0 after working six scoreless innings. The converted reliever pitched just two days after he earned the save with a scoreless inning in Saturday's 5-3 win against the Mets, and his performance Monday by far exceeded expectations.

"He pitched better than what we expected after pitching that save game on Saturday," Atlanta manager Fredi Gonzalez said. "Coming in [on short rest] there and short here, pitching in Fenway against an American League team, I couldn't ask for anything more, really. But you know, we run him out there in different scenarios and he always rises to the occasion, because he's got pitchability. We needed that one."

The sinkerballer induced three double plays over the first three innings to negate a trio of singles, giving the team 68 double plays in 64 games this season.

"It's fun. All of them were easy routine plays. That's always good," shortstop Andrelton Simmons said.

Video: [email protected]: Perez nabs Betts with pickoff throw to first

Perez went on to pitch around a single in the fourth and stranded two men on base in the sixth after issuing a pair of two-out walks. Perhaps the right-hander's biggest moment, however, came earlier in his final inning, when he erased Mookie Betts' leadoff single by picking him off first base.

"I felt relief after I got him out, because it was a big situation and I knew that he was still into it," Perez said.

Perez now has a 1.50 ERA in 36 innings logged as a starter this season.

"I've just been impressed with the young man, just the way he's carried himself, he's handled himself," Gonzalez said. "He knows how to pitch."

Alec Shirkey is an associate reporter for
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