- The Washington Times - Thursday, September 5, 2002

BALTIMORE Sidney Ponson took the mound last night for the first time in nearly a month. It only felt that long since the Baltimore Orioles last won a ballgame.

Behind five strong innings from Ponson in his first start since coming off the disabled list, the Orioles mercifully put an end to their season-worst 10-game losing streak with a 8-3 victory over the Texas Rangers.

How long had it been since Baltimore last tasted victory? When the Orioles came from behind to beat the Toronto Blue Jays on Aug.23, their record stood at 63-63. Negotiators in New York still had a week to work out a new collective bargaining agreement before the players would go on strike. Sage Rosenfels had just been traded away by the Washington Redskins.

So last night's win one that probably should have been even more lopsided was plenty welcome at Camden Yards, both by the 29,435 in the stands and the 40 or so uniformed personnel in the home clubhouse.

"Eventually, all good things come to an end," manager Mike Hargrove said. "When you go through these things, you swear they're going to last forever. Logical reason tells you they don't, but your emotions tell you that they do."

No one was happier to contribute than Ponson, who went on the DL Aug.9 after doctors discovered a partially torn labrum in his throwing shoulder. The injury might have required season-ending surgery had it been more severe, but the Orioles felt Ponson (who originally hurt himself two years ago) could pitch through it with a little rest and rehab.

Still, the club kept expectations low for last night's game, Ponson's first appearance since an Aug.6 victory against the Minnesota Twins. Hargrove said before the game that Ponson would be limited to 70-75 pitches or five innings, far below what is normally expected from a starting pitcher.

The Aruban right-hander, however, lived up to his part of the bargain and more, throwing 91 pitches over the requisite five innings of work, allowing two runs on three hits.

"I liked it so much out there I thought I'd prolong my start as long as I can," he said. "I bet you it took two hours to play five innings. I like that."

Ponson's only real mistake was a first-pitch slider to Ivan Rodriguez with two outs in the fourth. The Rangers' All-Star catcher drove it 426 feet to left-center for a two-run homer.

Otherwise, Ponson (7-5) showed the Orioles exactly what he needed to: a lively fastball, good off-speed stuff and no reason for concern.

For the first time in nearly two weeks, the Orioles' lineup produced plenty of offense, more than enough to ensure victory No.64.

Texas right-hander Aaron Myette, who became the first pitcher to start consecutive games since Oakland's Steve McCatty on April14-15, 1980, didn't look much better than his abbreviated, two-pitch appearance from the night before. Ejected on Tuesday night after throwing two straight pitches behind Melvin Mora's head, Myette (2-5) was tagged for five runs in three innings while walking six last night.

And unlike the previous night, when they were held to one hit by a trio of Rangers pitchers, the Orioles let out all their frustrations in a 10-hit explosion. Even though they scored eight runs, they could have piled it on even more, thanks to the 11 walks issued by Texas hurlers.

Never before has Baltimore been content to leave 13 men on base. Then again, when you win for the first time in 11 games, you're willing to accept a few negative stats.

"Ten losses in a row, it can be devastating to a ballclub," second baseman Jerry Hairston said. "Sometimes, I guess in the back of your mind, you're hoping today's the day. We don't have to worry about that [anymore], but we've still got to win some more ballgames."

Notes Hargrove named Sean Douglass as his starting pitcher for tomorrow's series opener against the Anaheim Angels. The rookie right-hander, who was recently called up from Class AAA Rochester, made four starts for the Orioles early in the season. … Rodrigo Lopez will start Saturday's game, but Hargrove declined to name his Sunday starter. Rookie John Stephens (1-4, 6.15 ERA) would normally be scheduled to pitch.

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