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

Rout of Rangers gives Orioles manager his 900th career victory

Lopez wins second straight start

Club collects 16 hits, enters break at 42-43

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

ARLINGTON, Texas - The Orioles used a seven-run fourth inning to give manager Mike Hargrove career win No. 900, on the final day before the All-Star break.

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

The Orioles finished 4-2 on their six-game road trip to Anaheim and Texas and improved to 42-43 for the season, leaving them 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 record in three years with the Orioles. A native of Perryton, Texas, Hargrove reached the milestone in front of his parents, Dudley and Rita Ann.

Hargrove said he wasn't aware he was approaching No. 900 until his wife, Sharon, told him yesterday morning.

"I think whenever you start thinking that way, thinking that you can do it, you never get it done," he said. "Those are important milestones, don't get me wrong, I'm not trying to downplay them. But I really believe if you go out and do your job, and you believe in what you're doing, and really believe in the people that you have working with you, then I think all those good things take care of themselves."

The Orioles took care of a lot of things in their final game before the break.

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, the Orioles' lone All-Star representative, 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.

After a single by Mike Bordick, Chris Singleton hit a two-run double to left field. Melvin Mora hit a run-scoring single, for the Orioles' seventh hit in a row, and Batista later added a run-scoring double, capping the scoring.

The Orioles sent 11 batters to the plate in the inning and had nine hits.

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 over 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 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."

Batista won't get the three days off, because he will be making his second career appearance at the All-Star Game. He went 2-for-3 with a double and an RBI last night, and will take these numbers to Milwaukee: a ..269 batting average, 19 home runs and 53 RBIs.

Melvin Mora and Gary Matthews each had three of the Orioles' 16 hits.

Lopez (8-3), a rookie who looked like an All-Star candidate before posting just one victory in June, allowed four runs in seven innings, including a season-high three 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.

Unlike Texas, Hargrove and the Orioles appear to be headed in the right direction.

"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. Races tighten up."

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