ARLINGTON, Texas — Marcus Semien drove in the go-ahead run with an RBI single in the fifth inning. Josh Jung homered and the Texas Rangers completed a season-opening series sweep of the defending NL champion Philadelphia Phillies with a 2-1 victory.
Martin Perez (1-0) allowed one run in 5 2/3 innings to win his season debut after setting career marks for ERA and strikeouts last season. Perez left with runners on first and second before Brock Burke, the first of three Texas relievers, retired Cristian Pache on a first-pitch foul out down the first-base line.
Jonathan Hernandez got five outs and Will Smith pitched a perfect ninth inning to earn his first save of the season. Perez gave up eight hits, walked three and struck out seven to help the Rangers to their first 3-0 start since 2011 – when they won their second straight AL pennant.
The Rangers, under first-year manager Bruce Bochy, are also three games over .500 for the first time since August 2019.
“The whole weekend, we executed so well,” Bochy said. “The guys just did a great job of picking each other up.”
Jung gave Texas a 1-0 lead when he led off the second inning with an opposite-field home run off Bailey Falter (0-1), who gave up both runs by the Rangers on seven hits in 5 1/3 innings.
Philadelphia tied it in the fourth inning when Josh Harrison’s double-play grounder brought home Nick Castellanos.
The Phillies, who won last year’s NL pennant from the last wild-card position, are 0-3 for the first time since losing their first four games in 2016. They left eight runners on base, were 1 for 8 with runners in scoring position, struck out eight times and hit into three double plays.
“That’s baseball, guys,” Falter said. “It’s always tough, but we’ve got a great group of guys. We’re going to bounce back.”
Sunday’s one-run loss followed defeats of 11-7 and 16-3 that saw Texas tie for the second-most runs scored in a team’s first two games.
“Tonight was a better ballgame,” Phillies manager Rob Thomson said. “We played well. All in all, it’s encouraging.”
SLOW START FOR SCHWARBER
Phillies DH Kyle Schwarber, who led the National League last season with 46 home runs, got off to an 0-for-12 start this year before singling in the seventh. After striking out in his first two at-bats, Schwarber launched a 416-foot shot to dead center that would have been a homer in most ballparks but was caught by Adolis Garcia at the top of the wall.
“It was good to see him square up two balls those last two at-bats and finally get a base hit,” Thomson said.
ROUTINE AND NOT ROUTINE
“If we keep making regular plays, we’re going to win a lot of games,” said Perez, who returned to Texas a year ago on a one-year contract, made the All-Star team for the first time and now is signed through 2024.
But the Rangers also made some outstanding fielding plays: Garcia’s grab to rob Schwarber, a running basket catch in the eighth inning by Garcia and a basket catch by shortstop Corey Seager with his back to the plate in the ninth.
Phillies: LHP Ranger Suarez (left forearm tenderness), out until at least late April, threw a bullpen Sunday that went well, Thomson said.
Phillies: RHP Taijuan Walker, who signed as a free agent last December, will make his Phillies debut Monday night against New York Yankees LHP Nestor Cortes to begin a three-game road series.
Rangers: RHP Jon Gray, the club’s opening day starter last season, will open a three-game home series against Baltimore on Monday night against RHP Kyle Bradish.