- The Washington Times - Sunday, June 1, 2003

BALTIMORE — The Baltimore Orioles came within two minutes of the longest rain delay in their home history last night, but they took much less time to take advantage of the majors’ worst pitching staff for the second straight night, whipping the Texas Rangers 7-1 before a crowd of 30,178 at Camden Yards. Every Oriole recorded at least one hit.

The victory, the Orioles’ eighth in their past 10 games, moved them back to .500 (27-27) for the first time since May 10 and within 4 games of the American League East-leading New York Yankees heading into today’s series finale with the Rangers.

After the 2-hour, 42-minute rain delay, Texas right-hander Joaquin Benoit (2-2) continually fell behind batters in the first two innings, throwing just 17 strikes among his 38 pitches. That deficiency caught up with him at the start of the third. Strangely, it happened with Benoit ahead 0-2 on Geronimo Gil. That’s when the ninth-place hitter hammered his third homer over the left field wall for a 1-0 Orioles lead.

After getting the next two outs, Benoit loaded the bases by walking David Segui and surrendering a sharp Jeff Conine single and an infield hit by Jay Gibbons. Segui and Conine scored when Texas shortstop Alex Rodriguez dropped Tony Batista’s twisting fly ball down the the left field line. Catcher Einar Diaz got Benoit out of the inning by catching Gibbons in a rundown during an aborted double steal.

Meanwhile, Baltimore right-hander Rick Helling (3-4) — one of just three pitchers in Texas history to win 20 games in a season, back in 1998 — had little trouble with the Rangers. Helling, who allowed seven runs in three innings last Sunday at Texas, gave up just three hits and no runs until the light-hitting Diaz ripped a homer to left with one out in the fifth. Michael Young followed with a double to left-center, but Helling avoided further damage by retiring Carl Everett and Hank Blalock.

Helling wound up allowing six hits and the one run in his seven innings of work.

Brian Roberts led off the seventh with a single, went to third on Segui’s single and came home on Conine’s sacrifice fly to make it 5-1. Buddy Groom relieved Helling for the bottom of the inning and surrendered an infield hit and a walk before Conine bailed him out, making a diving catch of Rafael Palmeiro’s liner and doubling Rodriguez off first.

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