Young Rangers provide heat in win over Reds

ARLINGTON, Texas — When it’s as hot as it was Friday in Texas, only kids are crazy enough to run around outside.

Three of the Rangers’ “kids” did just fine in a game that began with a first-pitch temperature of 100 degrees. Youngsters Martin Perez, Jurickson Profar and Leonys Martin stood out in the 4-0 win over the Reds.

Perez had the biggest impact by throwing 6 2/3 shutout innings to earn his second straight win since being recalled from Triple-A Round Rock.

Profar provided sparkling defense, thanks to the sore knee of one of the team’s older players.

Profar got the start at shortstop after designated hitter Lance Berkman banged his knee getting off the plane from New York the night before. Starting shortstop Elvis Andrus took Berkman’s spot at DH and the 20-year-old Profar was in the lineup.

In the third inning, Profar went several steps onto the outfield grass to snag a grounder by the Reds’ Devin Mesoraco. Profar gunned a throw that skipped into the glove of first baseman Mitch Moreland just ahead of the runner.

“Tremendous,” manager Ron Washington said. “He went to the backhand and threw it over there, had enough awareness to put the ball in the dirt, knowing that he wasn’t going to be able to throw it all the way.”

Profar showed off a strong arm in handling his chances Friday. No soft lobs like the one that cost the Rangers an out when he was playing second base recently.

“I thought I had more time,” Profar said of the third-inning play. “The catcher was running but he flies. I had to get rid of it quickly.”

Profar made another nice play on a grounder up the middle by Brandon Phillips to end the fourth inning. He also started a two-run rally with a walk in the second inning and drove in a run with a single in the fifth.

“The kid can play,” Washington said. “He certainly can help us win some ballgames.”

Martin has also been helping the Rangers win lately while on an offensive tear. He singled in the sixth to extend his hitting streak to 12 games.

Martin has been hitting .405 during the streak. He also stole his 14th base of the season, giving him 11 straight successful attempts.

Following Perez’s strong performance on the mound, the Rangers will rely on another young starter, Nick Tepesch, in Saturday’s game.

In his last start on Sunday, Tepesch took a shutout into the sixth inning against the Cardinals. He wound up with a no-decision but dueled Adam Wainwright in an eventual Rangers win.

The Rangers have managed to post one of the best records in the American League while relying on young starters like Perez, Tepesch and Justin Grimm.

“We as a staff had to make them understand how much confidence we have in them,” Washington said. “We’ve got their back whether it’s good or whether it’s bad. But they’ve got to keep working and show improvement, and I think they’ve done that.”

Follow Keith Whitmire on Twitter: @Keith_Whitmire