Rangers deal O's 6th loss in a row

Return home does little to warm up O's cool bats as Soriano lifts Texas, 4-2

July 26, 2005|By Kent Baker | Kent Baker,SUN STAFF

A return to Camden Yards and the return of catcher Javy Lopez were not enough inspiration to check the Orioles' slide last night.

In their first meeting of the season, the Texas Rangers capitalized on Daniel Cabrera's wildness and an Alfonso Soriano bat that matched the hot weather and sent the Orioles to their sixth consecutive loss, 4-2, before 29,314.

It was the eighth defeat in the past nine starts for the Orioles (50-48), who equaled their season high for successive losses. In those nine games, they have scored a mere 23 runs. They remain 3 1/2 games behind the Boston Red Sox, who also lost, in the American League East.

Again, the offense was unable to deliver in key situations. Against Rangers starter Joaquin Benoit (2-1), the Orioles constantly threatened early in the game, but they left six runners in scoring position through five innings while Texas built a 3-0 lead.

"It's been tough to score runs and if you can't score runs, you're not going to win," said Melvin Mora, who had three of the Orioles' eight hits. "I think we are all trying to do too much. I think we all need to just slow down. It's been frustrating."

Manager Lee Mazzilli decided that the Orioles will report late - about 1 1/2 hours before first pitch - for tonight's game. "It's hot and we just came off a long road trip. We're going to lay off hitting. I think that we're trying a bit too hard."

He added that the team just can't seem to produce the clutch hit that can make a big difference. "You've got the right guys up there and you feel good about it, but for some reason we're not pulling the trigger right now," he said.

Soriano was in the middle of nearly all the Rangers' scoring. In the eighth, he singled for his third hit, stole second after staying put on a pitchout during the preceding pitch and continued to third when Brian Roberts couldn't handle Lopez's throw.

Adrian Gonzalez knocked home the run with a one-out sacrifice fly as Texas ended a five-game losing streak.

Cabrera walked a career-high seven in five innings to suffer his first loss since June 22, but his biggest gaffe was a failure to cover first base on a potential inning-ending double-play ball to Rafael Palmeiro in the third, allowing Texas to score its first run.

"If I go there, we make a double play," said Cabrera (8-8). "Maybe I freezed on that play."

"I'll take the blame for that," said pitching coach Ray Miller. "He is young and he's going to be a good one, but he's still learning. We've had veterans who have made the same mistake."

"When you get to the seventh and eighth inning, that one run changes the game. You can do a lot of things," Mazzilli said. "It's a mental mistake that's not good."

Soriano hit his 25th homer leading off the fourth and then singled behind two walks to make it 3-0 in the fifth.

The Orioles closed to within a run in the sixth inning on Jay Gibbons' 15th homer, off left-hander Ron Mahay, and a bunt by Luis Matos that Rangers catcher Rod Barajas threw away for an error, a wild pitch and Larry Bigbie's RBI groundout.

Lopez came back from a two-month stint on the disabled list with a broken right hand and a recent rehabilitation assignment with the Double-A Bowie Baysox in which he hit .400 with two doubles and three RBIs in four games.

His appearance in the lineup marked the first time since May 10 that the Orioles have started the same nine hitters who opened the season.

"It was too long without playing," said Lopez, who was behind the plate and tossed out would-be base-stealer Gary Matthews in the third inning with the help of a nifty Miguel Tejada pickup.

"It was hard, especially when I see the team dropping from first place. Now we're in third place.

"I am going to try to bring the energy back, try to bring that missing piece of the team. This is earlier than I expected to be back. The pain is missing. I can hardly even feel it."

"Javy adds that extra dimension," said Palmeiro. "Just his presence in the lineup means a lot."

Catcher Eli Whiteside, who went 3-for-8 (.375) with two errors during his brief stay, was returned to Ottawa to open the roster spot for Lopez, who went 0-for-4 last night.

Orioles tonight

Opponent: Texas Rangers

Site, time: Camden Yards, 7:05

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

Starters: Rangers' Kenny Rogers (11-4, 2.71) vs. Orioles' Rodrigo Lopez (9-5, 4.37)

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