Rangers extend O's skid to 11

Orioles drop 11th in row as Rangers top Bedard

Visitors remain in big tailspin, 6-4, as Tejada's homer, Gibbons' 3 hits fall short in Orioles' opener in Texas

August 28, 2004|By Roch Kubatko | Roch Kubatko,SUN STAFF

ARLINGTON, Texas - Each time the Orioles lose another game to expand their streak, stretching it like a rubber band that won't snap, they are forced to confront a scary question. It must keep them awake at night, eyes glued to the ceiling, heart racing.

What now?

Somebody has to step up and become the stopper, even if he's not qualified for such a big job. Somebody has to deliver a clutch hit or make a play in the field that reverses the tide. Somebody has to restore order.

Unable to find the answer again last night, the search party led by another inexperienced guide, the Orioles sank a little deeper into their August abyss with a 6-4 loss to the Texas Rangers at Ameriquest Field in Arlington.

That's 11 defeats in a row for the Orioles (57-70), who haven't won since scoring eight runs in the eighth inning to rally past the Toronto Blue Jays on Aug. 15. It's their longest skid since losing 12 straight to end the 2002 season.

"We've just got to come back out here and play tomorrow," manager Lee Mazzilli said. "The guys go out and battle and leave everything on the field. That's all you can ask."

Rookie Erik Bedard (5-9) pitched into the sixth, often on the verge of total collapse but somehow able to stay on his feet until loading the bases. Miguel Tejada hit his 25th homer and drove in two runs.

A two-out, bases-loaded single in the eighth by Jay Gibbons, who had three hits, reduced the Rangers' lead to 6-4, but Tejada flied out in the ninth to strand the tying runs.

"When you get in a rut like this," Mazzilli said, "sometimes you try to do everybody's job for them rather than staying in your own. That's human nature."

Promoted from the minors earlier in the day, Texas starter John Wasdin retired nine straight batters before walking Brian Roberts to begin the fourth. David Newhan singled for the Orioles' first hit, assuring that at least two embarrassments would be avoided.

There are so many others from which to choose. A streak like this leaves no shortages.

"You've got to show up every night and keep grinding it out," Newhan said. "We can't throw in the towel. We have too long to go."

It's gotten so bad, the Orioles can't seem to get a call either.

Robert Machado appeared to avoid a double play in the seventh by beating the relay from Alfonso Soriano, who leaped over Tim Raines Jr. before making the throw. But umpire Marvin Hudson called Machado out to cut short a rally and bring Mazzilli from the dugout.

If the Orioles can't win a game, they sure won't win any arguments.

"You don't know what could happen next," Mazzilli said. "It changes the momentum of the game."

Wasdin pitched for the Orioles in 2001, but the derisive nickname "Way Back" followed him from Boston. His tendency to give up tape-measure home runs didn't go unnoticed.

The Orioles barely had the strength to leave the infield early on, especially with Javy Lopez excused from the lineup again because of back pain.

"When you lose a right-handed bat down in the middle of the order," Mazzilli said, "it hurts."

Wasdin (2-2) left after six innings with a 6-2 lead. He allowed four hits, three of them singles, and struck out four while gaining his second major league win since August 2001.

Subjected to four nights of Oakland's dominant rotation, the Orioles figured to get some relief against Wasdin.

They just needed Bedard to cooperate.

They needed him to bust through the wall that's risen in his path, causing him to win only two of his past 11 starts. Better command, fewer pitches, fewer reminders that he's a rookie who's two years removed from major elbow surgery.

Was that asking too much?

Bedard, who was charged with five earned runs in 5 1/3 innings, didn't instill much confidence when he walked leadoff hitter Eric Young on four pitches in the first. Young stole second base and went to third when Machado's throw hit him.

Soriano's fly ball gave Texas a 1-0 lead and stuck Bedard with an unearned run.

Placing the blame was much easier in the fourth inning, when the Rangers scored twice and elevated his pitch count to 78.

Mazzilli didn't let it go past 113, where it stood in the sixth after Bedard loaded the bases with no outs and Gary Matthews bounced into a force at home.

With Todd Williams pitching, Melvin Mora charged a slow roller from Rod Barajas and got the out at first as Kevin Mench scored. Young lined a two-run single to center for a 6-2 lead.

Bedard continues to battle his pitch count as much as opposing batters. "It seems like it's been that way my whole career, so I'm not worried about it," he said. "I guess I'll eventually cut it down the older I get."

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