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Rangers' starting pitching central to struggles

MLB.com @Sullivan_Ranger

ARLINGTON -- The Rangers' starting pitching was terrific during a 10-game winning streak, but it has been the reverse in the last two weeks and it has almost negated what they accomplished during the earlier streak.

Martin Perez allowed six runs, five earned, in 3 2/3 innings as the Rangers were swept by the Astros with a 7-2 loss on Sunday afternoon at Globe Life Park in Arlington.

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ARLINGTON -- The Rangers' starting pitching was terrific during a 10-game winning streak, but it has been the reverse in the last two weeks and it has almost negated what they accomplished during the earlier streak.

Martin Perez allowed six runs, five earned, in 3 2/3 innings as the Rangers were swept by the Astros with a 7-2 loss on Sunday afternoon at Globe Life Park in Arlington.

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Perez allowed 10 of 21 batters to reach safely and gave up three home runs for only the second time in his career. It matched his shortest outing of the season.

"Today he struggled getting to the offspeed stuff," Banister said. "Early offspeed was a ball out of the hand. They didn't offer. Couldn't land the breaking ball or the changeup for a strike, which forced him into positive hitter counts, and these guys just sat on the fastball. All of the damage was done mostly on the four-seam fastball."

During the 10-game winning streak, Rangers starters were 5-0 with a 2.52 ERA and an opponents' batting average of .242. Since then, Rangers starters are 2-8 with a 7.58 ERA in their last 14 starts, while opponents are hitting .323 off them. The Rangers have lost 11 of 14.

The Rangers continue to juggle their rotation, as Dillon Gee will start against the Mets on Tuesday. It will be his first start of the season, and Tyson Ross, almost fully recovered from offseason shoulder surgery, could make his Rangers debut this weekend against the Nationals.

But the Rangers are still without Cole Hamels, who threw off a mound for the first time in almost four weeks on Sunday and won't be back until early July.

"Obviously we're two pitchers down," Banister said. "That's no excuse. You've got to be able to get some quality starts in there, and that has not been the case lately. That's obvious. Most teams go as their starting pitchers go. That's no secret.

"We've got to find a way to get back on track in the starting roles, so that we can gain some length and give our offense an opportunity to get some runs on the board."

The Rangers were seven games under .500 and 8 1/2 games out of first right before they started their 10-game winning streak. Now they are five games under .500 and 15 games behind the Astros.

"We don't look at the standings," Banister said. "We don't look at where we're at. Whether you're in front or whether you're behind, it's going to feel a lot better when you're in front, I'll concede that. When you're behind, the only thing that you can do is focus on today. That's it. To think about where you are in the standings would be a monumental mistake, in my opinion, because we can't make it up all in one day."

T.R. Sullivan has covered the Rangers since 1989, and for MLB.com since 2006. Follow him on Twitter @Sullivan_Ranger and listen to his podcast.

Texas Rangers