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 regular catcher Javy Lopez was 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 3M-= 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 continually threatened in the early portion of the game, but they left six runners in scoring position through five innings while Texas built a 3-0 lead.

The Rangers broke a five-game skid of their own with Soriano figuring in three of their runs. The final one came in the eighth against Jorge Julio when Soriano 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.

The Orioles almost constantly applied pressure to Benoit, but left nine men stranded, including the bases loaded twice, through the first five innings. Benoit left with a 3-0 lead although he surrendered four hits, walked four men and hit a batter.

It was not until reliever Ron Mahay entered to start the sixth that the Orioles could break through, beginning with a home run by Jay Gibbons, his 15th, against the left-hander.

Luis Matos then bunted and scampered to second when Rangers catcher Rod Barajas threw the ball into right field after fielding the bunt in front of the plate. Matos advanced on a wild pitch and scored when Larry Bigbie grounded out to shortstop.

Texas had built its lead with two RBIs by Soriano, including his 25th home run off Daniel Cabrera leading off the fourth. Soriano also delivered a run- scoring single in the next inning following two of the seven walks doled out by Cabrera (8-8).

Cabrera issued four bases on balls in the third, but a runner caught stealing might have prevented any scoring. However, he failed to cover first base on a po tential inning-ending double- play ball hit to Rafael Palmeiro and Texas had its first run.

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."

Palmeiro, who will be formally honored Aug. 14 for joining the 3,000-hit club, received a standing ovation the first time he batted last night and responded with a first-inning single to right field. A banner also hung on the warehouse reading: "Congratulations, Raffy! 3OOO."

Catcher Eli Whiteside, who went 3-for-8 (.375) 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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