Texas clicks; 9th straight W caps homestand

Texas clicks; 9th straight W caps homestand

ARLINGTON -- Propelled by Ryan Rua's three-run homer, the Rangers wrapped up a perfect homestand on Thursday afternoon with an 8-4 victory over the Phillies. Texas won its ninth consecutive game to cap its 8-0 homestand.

By sweeping the Padres, A's and Phillies at Globe Life Park, the Rangers have quickly made a winner out of a club that seemed to be spinning its wheels in the season's first five weeks. Though Texas has picked up only a half-game in the American League West behind the dominant Astros, the Rangers have put their 13-20 start well behind them and are two games above .500 for the first time this season.

"We win a couple of games, and I think that momentum carried over and kept carrying over," Rangers shortstop Elvis Andrus said. "And you keep winning and winning, and you don't want to lose. It's always great when you keep finding a way."

Despite chasing Phillies starter Nick Pivetta after just 4 2/3 innings, the Rangers had yet to score until they pounded out five runs with two outs in the fifth and reliever Joely Rodriguez on the hill. Rua's three-run drive capped the big inning, and Rodriguez allowed three more runs in the sixth.

Rua's three-run home run

Rua, who made his 17th start of the season, said his role off the bench requires "preparing like you're going to play every day." But it's not every day that he provides the pivotal hit for the Rangers.

"[I was] just trying not to do too much, make sure I put a good swing on it," Rua said.  

Perez K's eight in solid outing

Rangers starter Martin Perez scattered five hits in seven strong innings, striking out eight and walking none. His only blemishes on Thursday were a second-inning triple to Michael Saunders, who scored on a sacrifice fly before exiting with a left groin injury, and Maikel Franco's solo homer in the fifth.

The Phillies have lost 15 of their last 18 games following an 11-9 start.

Franco's homer to right-center

"We're in a little bit of trouble," Franco said. "We have to stay positive, try to change the mentality, try to change something."

Walks, balk lead to runaway inning:
Pivetta began the fifth inning with a strikeout, a walk and another strikeout, and the Phillies then called on the left-handed Rodriguez to get the last out against the left-handed-hitting Nomar Mazara. But Rodriguez made a crucial mistake during that at-bat, balking on a pickoff attempt. That sent Shin-Soo Choo to second and may have rattled Rodriguez, who walked Mazara and then allowed back-to-back RBI singles to Robinson Chirinos and Rougned Odor to tie the game at 2 before Rua delivered the homer that put Texas ahead to stay. The Mazara walk was critical to blowing the inning open.

Chirinos' RBI single

"I'm proud of [Mazara] for staying out of the chase zones today," Rangers manager Jeff Banister said. "When you see him going the other way, driving the ball in the gap early -- he's seeing the ball well, so it's not surprising that he was able to stay out of the chase zones."

Banister on Perez's start

Perez makes a grand exit: For a while, it looked as though Perez might be on the hook for another hard-luck loss -- he had the second-lowest run support in the Majors at 2.67, one reason he entered Thursday with a 1-5 record. But after the Rangers gave him a 5-2 lead, Perez retired six out of the final seven hitters he faced, striking out three of them. He fanned Andrew Knapp on his 104th and final pitch of the game, stranding a runner on second to end the seventh inning.  More >

"I still think we have a chance to have a good bullpen, but once again, here I am in the fifth inning going to the bullpen. I don't have the luxury of left-right-left in the fifth inning. I need all the arms I can hang onto for the end of the game. We've scuffled once again. The pitchers aren't getting us enough length. It's a broken record." -- Phillies manager Pete Mackanin, on another short outing by a Phillies starter

• Short starts stretching Phillies relievers thin

Rua's home run came on the first pitch of the at-bat. He's hitting .457 when he puts the ball in play on the first pitch of an at-bat, dating back to the start of 2016, which ranks ninth among 93 part-time hitters in the Majors.

The Phillies optioned Pivetta to Triple-A Lehigh Valley after the game, with Aaron Nola set to rejoin the rotation on Sunday. Pivetta posted a 5.12 ERA in four starts. He never pitched more than five innings.

Pivetta, Knapp turn double play

"I've got to limit those pitches," Pivetta said of his short starts. "I did pretty well down there [in Triple-A]. I'll try to continue that."

Phillies: Phillies right-hander Jeremy Hellickson (4-1, 3.71 ERA) will start Friday's 7:05 p.m. ET series opener against the Pirates at PNC Park. Hellickson went 4-0 with a 1.80 ERA in five April starts, looking like an early favorite to make the National League All-Star team. But he's 0-1 with a 7.90 ERA in three starts this month and has not pitched more than five innings in any of those starts.

Rangers: Right-hander Nick Martinez (0-2, 5.04 ERA in five starts) takes the mound Friday when the Rangers travel to Detroit for their series opener against lefty Daniel Norris and the Tigers at 6:10 p.m. CT. Martinez is winless in his last 11 starts, going back to August 2015, a stretch that's tied for the fourth longest among all starters in the Majors.

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Dave Sessions is a contributor to MLB.com based in Texas and covered the Rangers on Thursday.

Todd Zolecki has covered the Phillies since 2003, and for MLB.com since 2009. Follow him on Twitter and Facebook and listen to his podcast.

This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.