- The Washington Times - Tuesday, July 22, 2003

BALTIMORE — The streaking Baltimore Orioles didn’t receive another quality start, but their offense more than made up for it.

The Orioles doubled up Texas 12-6 yesterday afternoon before 31,725 at Camden Yards. Baltimore, which has won six straight for the first time since June 2000, had its highest offensive output since a 12-4 defeat of Anaheim on May 27.

The outburst came on a day Rodrigo Lopez was ineffective for the first time in five starts. The right-hander struggled in the muggy conditions, surrendering five runs in 4⅔ innings before yielding to reliever Travis Driskill (3-3) an out shy of qualifying for the victory. It was just the second time in 14 games the Orioles did not receive a quality start (six innings pitched with three or fewer earned runs allowed).

“Our pitching has been unbelievable in the second half, and we haven’t hit as well as we had in the first half, so it’s good to pick up the pitching today,” said Jay Gibbons, who drove in a game-high four runs.

Gibbons provided the Orioles with some insurance in the seventh inning. With Luis Matos on second and one out, Texas lefty Ron Mahay intentionally walked Jeff Conine to get to Gibbons, a left-handed hitter. The right fielder belted Mahay’s second pitch into the right-field flag court to extend the Orioles’ lead to 10-5.

It was Gibbons’ 15th homer of the season but his first since June 28.

“That was the thing to do. The Rangers did the right thing, and it just paid off for us,” Orioles manager Mike Hargrove said. “The pitcher got a fastball middle in down, right in Gibby’s wheelhouse, and he hit it like he should. The big thing about that is that he didn’t overswing, and that was nice to see.”

The Orioles jumped to a 2-0 lead in the first inning, but Texas scored three in the third off Lopez.

Baltimore regrouped in the fourth, when Gibbons doubled and Tony Batista singled to open the inning. An out later, Deivi Cruz singled in the tying run. After Robert Machado walked, Brian Roberts lined a two-run single past Texas pitcher John Thomson (7-10). Matos’ sacrifice fly chased Thomson, and reliever Erasmo Ramirez surrendered an RBI single to B.J. Surhoff to give the Orioles a 7-3 edge.

Texas rallied for two runs in the fifth, the second scoring on a two-out error by first baseman Carlos Mendez, to end Lopez’s day. Driskill, who gave up four runs in a third of an inning Sunday after a 15-day layoff, struck out Shane Spencer to finish the inning and went on to pitch 3⅓ shutout innings.

Baltimore (47-50), which had lost five of seven going into the All-Star break, is within three games of .500 for the first time since it was 32-35 on June 15. The Orioles begin an eight-game road trip to face three playoff contenders — New York, Toronto and Minnesota — tonight at Yankee Stadium.

“If there is ever a good time [to play the Yankees], this is it,” Hargrove said. “We face [Roger] Clemens and [David] Wells, and the Yankees in Yankee Stadium are always tough, and they have two of their big guns going, so we have our work cut out for us.”

Notes — The Orioles called up left-hander Eric DuBose from Ottawa. Outfielder Jack Cust, who had not appeared in a game since joining the Orioles on July 11, was sent to Ottawa. … Baltimore won seven of nine games against Texas. It was the first time since 1998 the Orioles took a season series from the Rangers. … Machado hit his first home run as an Oriole in the eighth inning. … Texas third baseman Hank Blalock hit the 31st home run onto Eutaw Street in Camden Yards’ 12-season history, a 380-foot shot in the fifth inning. … Former Oriole Rafael Palmeiro made his 1,511th appearance as a Ranger yesterday, tying former catcher Jim Sundberg for the club record.

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