SURPRISE, Ariz. -- The nerves got to Martin Perez on the mound again.
"I tried to be better on my sinker and rely more often on that than my fastball because with a sinker you can get ground ball and double plays and get me out of the problems," Perez said through an interpreter.
Perez balked during third baseman Josh Donaldson's plate appearance with men on first and second. At one point, Perez was down 3-1 after consecutive pitches in the dirt. But he battled back to strike out Donaldson to end the inning.
"I was trying to locate pitches and was a little anxious and desperate," Perez said. "I know that was my problem today, and I know I have to control those things, get ahead in the count and get rid of those things."
He never managed to control his emotions. Perez went an inning shorter than scheduled because he surpassed his pitch limit -- 50 pitches -- after two innings. He gave up his second run on a RBI single by shortstop Cliff Pennington. Perez threw a wild pitch during the at-bat, which allowed the runner to advance to third.
Following a visit from pitching coach Mike Maddux, Perez struck out Smith to end the second. He finished with two walks and three strikeouts.
"He’s just one of those guys that everytime he gets the ball, you love him to death," Maddux said. "His stuff is there, but experience is something he’s going to have to gather."
Perez has dealt with jitters during both of his starts on the mound this spring. But it's all a learning experience for Perez, who is ranked 31st on Baseball America's Top 100 prospects.
"It’s all in my head sometimes, and that’s what I have to do -- I have to get control of myself and don’t think too much about it," Perez said. "I have to be more relaxed and try to do my job."
Snyder's outing: Ben Snyder had two scoreless innings in the sixth and seventh. He was dealing with mechanical issues on the mound, but Maddux said Snyder made the adjustment and had a downhill angle on his fastball Thursday.
Snyder replaced Neil Ramirez in the sixth following a home run, walk and a double. Snyder got three straight outs against the A's No. 4, 5 and 6 hitters. The only hit against Snyder came in the seventh by first baseman Kila Ka'aihue, but Snyder got out of the inning on a double play.
"I thought he looked pretty good," Maddux said. "It just made his stuff crisper. He picked us up. There was an extra inning to be had, and he picked them up."
Cruz's clears the bases: Nelson Cruz was in midseason form during his first at-bat in the first inning. With the bases loaded, Cruz smashed a doubled into the left-center-field gap. He fouled off the first three pitches and eventually got the three-RBI hit on a 1-2 count.
Cruz's .332 average with runners in scoring position was the sixth best in baseball last season. Cruz finished 1-for-2 Thursday with a walk.