Orioles' young arm pins Rangers

Bedard carries three-hitter into 7th inning, defeats fellow rookie Regilio, 9-1

Bigbie, Tejada, Lopez hit home runs

August 07, 2004|By Roch Kubatko | Roch Kubatko,SUN STAFF

If the Texas Rangers learned anything last night, it's that no matter how many days they've spent in first place this season, no matter how many more games they've won than the Orioles, they can't brag about having the best rookie pitchers.

The Orioles got six shutout innings. The Rangers got a reminder of the dangers that come with inexperience.

Running up a big lead against two first-year pitchers, the Orioles scored in each of the first five innings and cruised behind Erik Bedard to a 9-1 victory in front of 29,276 at Camden Yards.

Larry Bigbie, Miguel Tejada and Javy Lopez homered off reliever Ryan Snare, who was making his major league debut, after the Orioles sent nine batters to the plate in the first inning and scored three times against Nick Regilio. There were no free rides for Texas pitching last night, no mistakes that went unpunished.

Bedard, meanwhile, left to a standing ovation after taking a three-hit shutout into the seventh and departing with the bases loaded and one out. Michael Young singled off Todd Williams for the Rangers' first run, but Alfonso Soriano grounded into a double play.

"That's as good as I've seen him," manager Lee Mazzilli said of Bedard.

A night of rest and Thursday's open date enabled Bigbie to return to left field, and his two-run shot in the third inning increased the Orioles' lead to 6-0. Tejada and Lopez delivered with the bases empty in the fourth.

Bigbie was scratched from Wednesday's lineup because of swelling in his right elbow, the result of being hit by a pitch the previous night.

"I had a feeling it would probably take a day," he said. "It was in one of those spots where I could swing fine but I couldn't throw."

Bigbie was 4-for-11 in his previous three games, including 3-for-7 with a home run in Tuesday's doubleheader against the Seattle Mariners. Inept against left-handed pitching most of the season, he knocked in the go-ahead run in Game 1 with a double off Mike Myers, homered off Jamie Moyer in Game 2 and connected against Snare.

With his average up to .262, he didn't need a sore elbow interfering with his resurgence at the plate.

"Hopefully it didn't bother anything," he said, "so I can pick up where I left off."

The Orioles (50-57) wanted to do the same after sweeping a three-game series from the Mariners earlier this week. They moved to within seven games of .500 for the first time since July 22, and only the second time since June 16.

"You always like to put a streak together," Mazzilli said. "All you can do is play good ball. Sometimes the other team is just better."

And sometimes it's overmatched.

Making his third major league start and fifth appearance, Regilio created his own problems during a 33-pitch first inning. Then Young compounded them.

The first two batters walked and Melvin Mora laid down a sacrifice bunt. Tejada grounded to Young, who conceded the run while throwing to first. But he sailed the ball over Mark Teixiera's head for an error, and B.J. Surhoff lined a two-out, two-run single into right field to increase the lead to 3-0.

Both of those runs were unearned, and they gave Bedard a little more room to navigate through the Rangers' lineup.

Bedard had lost four of his previous five starts, his only win coming July 21 in Boston. He didn't make it through the fifth inning in his previous two outings, totaling 195 pitches in 9 1/3 innings.

Last night was different. It was a little more of what the Orioles expected when they anointed him the fifth starter out of spring training.

"I was just comfortable," he said. "I wasn't worried about the score because we had a lot of runs. I was just trying to throw strikes."

Bedard retired 14 of 15 before Kevin Mench's two-out double in the fifth. He was in such control that he called off his infielders and caught a pop up to end the inning and strand two runners.

Mazzilli removed him after 125 pitches, his highest total this season. Bedard allowed five hits and struck out seven.

"Every start he gets he's going to mature more and get experience," Mazzilli said. "Every time he goes out there he's going to learn something."

The Rangers didn't play like a team that's competing in the American League West. The loss dropped Texas a half game behind the first-place Oakland Athletics. Besides Young's error, catcher Gerald Laird fired a throw over second base as Roberts was trying to steal in the second inning, and Teixiera could only wave at a smash by David Newhan near the first-base line that went for an RBI double.

Roberts had stopped short of second on the attempted steal and began to turn back before the ball ended up in center field. He scored on Newhan's double, giving the Orioles a 4-0 lead.

Two batters later, Regilio was headed to the dugout. Mora walked, raising Regilio's total to five, and as Tejada struck out swinging, the runners advanced when the ball bounced past Laird for a wild pitch.

It was an appropriate way for Regilio's start to end. Nine of the 13 batters he faced reached base before manager Buck Showalter replaced him with Snare.

The defensive support didn't improve for Snare. Alfonso Soriano committed the Rangers' third error when he charged a ground ball in the fifth inning and allowed it to scoot under his glove, and Mora's two-out double produced another unearned run and hastened Snare's exit.

Orioles today

Opponent: Texas Rangers

Site: Camden Yards

Time: 4:35 p.m.

TV/Radio: Comcast SportsNet/WBAL (1090 AM)

Starters: Rangers' Scott Erickson (0-1, 7.88 in NL) vs. Orioles' Rodrigo Lopez (8-7, 4.18)

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