Hargrove gets milestone as O's win, 10-4

Rout of Rangers gives Orioles manager his 900th career victory

Lopez gets second straight win

Club collects 16 hits, enters break at 42-43

July 08, 2002|By Joe Christensen | Joe Christensen,SUN STAFF

ARLINGTON, Texas - The Orioles reached the All-Star break with a flourish last night, using a seven-run fourth inning to give manager Mike Hargrove career win No. 900 before both of his parents, in the place where he started his big-league career.

Everyone in the lineup had at least one hit, and Rodrigo Lopez won his second consecutive start, as the Orioles cruised to a 10-4 victory over the Texas Rangers at The Ballpark in Arlington.

"We've got something unique going here," Orioles shortstop Mike Bordick said. "We've been playing pretty well, kind of exceeding other people's expectations, and to get Grover that win, that's a good thing. It makes everybody feel good in this clubhouse."

The Orioles finished 4-2 on their six-game road trip to Anaheim and Texas. At 42-43, they sit 12 games behind the New York Yankees and 10 games behind the Boston Red Sox in the American League East.

Hargrove became the 54th major-league manager to reach 900 wins, joining current managers Bobby Cox, Art Howe, Tony La Russa, Lou Piniella, Joe Torre and Bobby Valentine.

In his 12th season as a big-league manager, Hargrove is 900-820, including a 179-229 mark in three years with the Orioles. A native of Perryton, Texas, Hargrove was AL Rookie of the Year in 1974 for these same Rangers.

Asked whether it made it any more special, reaching this milestone in Texas, Hargrove said: "Honestly, I really hadn't thought about it. This is where we've got our roots, and I'm awfully proud of being a Texan. Yeah, it probably means more being able to do it here, with mom and dad in town. So it's awfully special, you bet."

Texas took a 1-0 lead in the second inning, when Rafael Palmeiro hit his 21st home run of the season off Lopez. But after being held scoreless for three innings against Rangers starter Kenny Rogers (9-5), the Orioles strung together seven consecutive hits in the fourth.

In a span of four batters, they hit for the cycle. Tony Batista singled, and Marty Cordova tied the game with a triple. Jose Leon followed with a two-run homer, his second of the season, and then Geronimo Gil doubled.

Bordick, Chris Singleton and Melvin Mora followed with base hits. The Orioles sent 11 batters to the plate in the inning.

"We're playing good, and we finished strong in the first half," said Mora, who had three of the Orioles' 16 hits, as did Gary Matthews. "I hope we can come back for the second half and stay focused, not try to do too much."

As has been his custom, Hargrove gave his team three full days off during the break, instead of scheduling a workout for Wednesday. The Orioles will play the Oakland Athletics on Thursday at Camden Yards, and several players talked during the weekend about how much they appreciated Hargrove giving them the extra time with their families.

"I try to remember what it was like when I played," Hargrove said. "Not to the point that I cater to the players, but you can take little things and make them big things. We've been playing since Feb. 18, with a day off here and there. One day without a workout is not going to kill us."

As the Orioles' lone All-Star representative, Batista won't get the three days off, but he went 2-for-3 with a double last night, and will take these numbers to Milwaukee: a ..269 batting average, 19 home runs and 53 RBIs.

Lopez (8-3), a rookie who looked like an All-Star candidate before posting just one victory in June, allowed only four hits in seven innings, but three of those were home runs.

Alex Rodriguez hit a two-run homer off Lopez in the sixth inning, giving him an AL-best 27 home runs and 73 RBIs at the break. But the Rangers, who spent big bucks on the free-agent market again this past off-season, fell to 39-47.

Texas manager Jerry Narron's frustration was apparent when he drew an ejection from plate umpire Jim Reynolds with two outs in the ninth.

Clearly, these are happier times for Hargrove and the Orioles.

"I don't think there's anything we're doing that we're not capable of sustaining," Hargrove said. "We'll see. The second half's always a whole different ballgame."

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