For 15 years, Nolan Ryan lived without a victory over th Baltimore Orioles.
Now, he has beaten them twice within a week.
DTC The right-hander was in vintage form yesterday, striking out 10 in 7 1/3 dominating innings to out-duel young Jose Mesa and lead the Texas Rangers to a 1-0 triumph before 22,448 at Memorial Stadium, where Ryan hadn't won since 1975.
It was an even better performance than Ryan had last Sunday at Arlington Stadium, when he survived a three-run homer by Sam Horn in the first inning and coasted in a 15-3 romp by the Rangers.
Only three Orioles reached second base against Ryan, who yielded to reliever Jeff Russell after a double by Mike Devereaux with one out in the eighth.
The 44-year-old strikeout king left to a standing ovation, and Russell protected the advantage despite an eighth-inning error that got Devereaux to third base with two out.
Russell retired the final four Orioles, the first two on called third strikes, Nos. 5 and 6 of the game by Texas pitching.
"Usually with Nolan, he's not as sharp early," said Orioles manager Frank Robinson. "But we caught him on a day when he was sharp from the first pitch of the game. When he's like that, it's almost impossible to beat him."
As a consequence, Mesa, 24, suffered his second tough loss of the season -- he lost, 2-0, to the Chicago White Sox's Greg Hibbard on April 10 -- although the right-hander's ERA fell to 2.45.
"There's nothing you can do about it," said Mesa. "I was sure we were going to have a tight game, so what I have to do is hang with it and hope you get a run."
Mesa never did. Ryan got his in the fifth when Gary Pettis singled, stole second, went to third on a single by Geno Petralli and scored on a sacrifice fly by Rafael Palmeiro.
"The pitching was outstanding today. I only wish the umpiring had matched the pitching," said Robinson, who declined to elaborate.
But it was no secret that Orioles hitters were disturbed by plate umpire Dale Scott's calls on Ryan pitches aimed for the outside corner.
"The umpire was calling the pitches he wanted, so he kept throwing them there," said Devereaux. "That's what a pitcher should do in that situation. He's a great pitcher."
Mesa said: "They were squeezing us a little. We didn't get those [calls]."
Ryan disagreed with Robinson and said, "When you see people get rung up on third-strike calls, there are going to be some complaints about it.
"In that two-strike situation, you throw what we pitchers call 'aces' out there. Those are tough pitches to hit, very low-percentage pitches, and those guys took a lot of them."
Ryan had his whole arsenal, the mid-90s fastball, a freezing changeup and a nasty curveball when necessary. "When I have those pitches working, I usually have a good outing," he said.
The Orioles had two runners on in the second and third and one in the fifth, but couldn't capitalize against Ryan, who is 7-16 in his career against them, including 4-10 at Memorial Stadium.
"Nolan really wanted this one," said Rangers manager Bobby Valentine. "He has had a black mark against them. People said that he could not win in this ballpark, and he wanted to prove them wrong."
Russell, who has allowed only one hit in six scoreless innings this year, caught Leo Gomez looking at a 3-2 breaking ball to squelch the final Orioles bid in the eighth.
That and a 1-2-3 ninth clinched Ryan's 304th lifetime victory and ended his 0-7 slide at Memorial Stadium, one that had existed since May 18, 1975. Ryan didn't face the Orioles from 1980 to '88, when he pitched in the National League for the Houston Astros.
"You really don't think about that [the losing streak]," said Ryan. "The only reason I brought it up was because it was in the news. But the teams are totally different from the last time I won here."
Only the results changed.
Rangers fifth: Pettis singled to right. Pettis stole second. Downing struck out. Petralli singled to second, Pettis to third. Palmeiro hit sacrifice fly to left, Pettis scored. Sierra singled to left, Petralli to second. Franco grounded into fielder's choice to shortstop, Sierra forced at second, shortstop to second. Texas 1, Baltimore 0.