- The Washington Times - Saturday, July 20, 2002

BALTIMORE The Baltimore Orioles' small-ball offense packed a punch against the Chicago White Sox last night.
The Orioles banged 13 hits nine of them singles and Rodrigo Lopez won his fourth straight start in a 10-4 pounding of the White Sox before 36,949 at Camden Yards. It was the sixth time this season that the Orioles have won with Lopez (10-4) on the mound following a loss.
Save for a monstrous 406-foot blast to right field by Gary Matthews Jr., who became just the second player and first Oriole, to hit a ball onto Eutaw Street this season, the Orioles didn't mash their way to the rout. Instead, they pecked away slowly and surely against Chicago starter Jon Garland (8-7), shooting balls through holes and taking pitches the opposite way,
The effect on Garland was just as fatal as if he had been serving up batting practice fastballs at a home run derby. He lasted just three innings, failing to record an out in the Orioles' six-run fourth inning that blew the game open.
Baltimore's eruption started innocently enough on a single in the hole by left fielder Marty Cordova. Baltimore manager Mike Hargrove then put on the hit-and-run on with recent call-up Howie Clark at the plate. The left-handed hitter executed perfectly, slapping a double down the left field line to put runners on the corners.
The third consecutive hit of the inning was an opposite-field liner to right by catcher Geronimo Gil that scored Cordova. With Gil running from first on a full count to stay out of the double play, second baseman Luis Lopez laced a seeing-eye single through the hole vacated by Ray Durham, who had moved to cover second.
Lopez's hit scored Clark, who now has hit safely in all four games since his contract was purchased from Class AAA Rochester. He had two of Baltimore's four extra-base hits, both of them doubles.
"The hit-and-run double that Clark had really set the tone for our offense and the game," Hargrove said. "The hit-and-run fits him. I think this is the first time we've run it since he's been up here, but their pitcher was throwing a lot of first-pitch strikes."
After shortstop Melvin Mora walked to load the bases, center fielder Chris Singleton's hard grounder up the middle off reliever Matt Ginter skidded under Durham's glove, scoring two more runs. A groundout by Matthews brought home Mora to push the lead to 8-3. One out later, first baseman Jay Gibbons the ninth batter of the inning pulled a single past Konerko and into right field, scoring Singleton from second.
The eruption made it an easy night's work for Lopez, who gave up five hits in his first three innings before going on to strike out a career-high eight in seven innings.
"As soon as [we] scored the six runs, I went out on the mound more relaxed," said Lopez. "That really helped me, because at the beginning I wasn't throwing the ball on the plate."
Added Hargrove: "[Lopez] struggled in the beginning and had trouble trying to locate his fastball. Once we gave him a lead, he really settled down. He came around and got some big strikeouts for us."
Lopez essentially committed just two mistakes all night, and neither proved costly thanks to Baltimore's offensive barrage.
The first came when Kenny Lofton homered to right on the game's first at-bat the 100th homer of Lofton's career and his second leadoff blast in as many nights. Lopez's only other flaw was a 3-1 fastball left out over the plate to Magglio Ordonez, who blasted it over the left field fence for a two-run homer that gave the White Sox a 3-2 lead.
Jerry Hairston started the game at second base for the Orioles but was ejected for arguing with first-base umpire Joe West. Hairston had reached safely on a chopper to third base when Jose Valentin's throw sailed wide of first. But Hairston turned the corner as if to head to second, and Konerko tagged him out.

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