For the Orioles' Jose Mesa, it was a long time between major-league victories.
Promoted from Triple A Rochester Wednesday, the 25-year-old righthander muffled the Texas Rangers, 9-2, on three hits last night for his first win as an Oriole in 96 days. He beat the Seattle Mariners May 11, went winless in his next nine starts and was sent to Rochester June 28.
"When I was here before, I was all over the place," Mesa said. "Now I have much more control. That is the big difference."
In turning in the Orioles' first complete-game victory since Ben McDonald's May 17, Mesa walked only two and struck out nine.
"He threw hard the entire nine innings," manager John Oates said. "That's as well as anyone has pitched for us this year, stuff-wise. It's got to be a confidence builder for him.
"I know of two or three situations where he struck out guys with 3-and-2 curveballs. When he was struggling earlier in the year, he would miss with those pitches."
Mesa had a one-hitter through seven innings. During one stretch, between Kevin Reimer's second-inning home run and a walk to Rafael Palmeiro, Mesa retired 14 batters in a row.
* RIPKEN RETURNS: Bill Ripken, who had been on the disabled list with a strained rib cage muscle, has been reinstated. To make room for him, pitcher Jose Bautista was designated for assignment to the minors.
* ORSULAK HOT: Joe Orsulak extended his hitting streak to 13 games, exceeding his previous high of 12 with the Pittsburgh Pirates in 1985. He is swinging a .429 bat during this period.
* STREAKING: The Orioles' five-game winning string is their longest since they ticked off six straight last September. They finished this homestand at 6-6.