- The Washington Times - Friday, May 30, 2003

BALTIMORE — The Baltimore Orioles’ four-game winning streak and string of impressive offensive showings ended abruptly last night against a team that knows a thing or two about hitting.

The Texas Rangers increased their major league lead in home runs to 86 and added four doubles in defeating the Orioles 8-4 before 19,767 at Camden Yards.

The Orioles (25-27) had reached double figures in hits in nine consecutive games and had scored six or more runs eight times while batting .363 during that span. But starter Ismael Valdes (5-2) and three Rangers relievers limited them to eight hits.

“Percentages say [the offensive surge] will level off,” Orioles manager Mike Hargrove said. “I certainly don’t want it to be that roller coaster ride where it’s all or nothing. While we don’t have a lot of power in our lineup, we do have guys that can make contact and hit the ball. I choose to believe we’ll find a happy medium.”

Orioles starter Pat Hentgen (1-2) was not happy with his performance. The right-hander gave up six runs on six hits and had five walks in 4⅓ innings, losing his second consecutive decision.

“I just could not make pitches consistently,” Hentgen said. “You have to do that no matter what team you’re facing. I didn’t execute very well. You have to make good pitches down in the zone and I couldn’t.”

Hargrove gave Hentgen a stern lecture on the mound after a bases-loaded walk in the third handed the Rangers a 2-0 lead.

“I felt that Pat was getting a little frustrated and some of those calls were not going his way, and I was trying to get him to refocus,” Hargrove said.

Hentgen was fortunate to get out of the first with minimal damage. An infield hit by Carl Everett and a pair of walks loaded the bases with no outs. But Juan Gonzalez’s one-out grounder to first, after Rafael Palmeiro popped out, produced the inning’s lone run.

Hentgen was in the same predicament in the third. Everett and Hank Blalock opened the inning with singles and Alex Rodriguez walked to load the bases. Hentgen’s fourth walk of the game then forced home a run and the Rangers added another when Blalock scored on a force out at second to give Texas a 3-0 lead.

The Orioles, who had gone down in order in the first two innings, answered with two runs in their half of the third on Melvin Mora’s triple to right-center, which extended his hitting streak to 11 games.

Though he has played five positions this season, Mora has gone a long way toward shedding his label as a utility player by becoming a force in the Orioles’ lineup on a daily basis. He entered the night leading the majors in hitting at .359.

n the fifth, the Rangers tacked on three more runs on four hits to extend their lead to 6-2 and knock Hentgen out of the game. It was such a disappointing night for the veteran that he tossed his glove into the stands as he walked into the dugout.

“It’s just frustration, pitching so poorly,” he said. “The team’s been playing so well and I hate to stop that.”

The Orioles narrowed the lead to 6-4 in the seventh. Tony Batista led off with a single and moved to third on Luis Matos’ double to left. Batista then scored on a grounder to first by Brook Fordyce and Deivi Cruz drove in Matos with a single to left.

Ruben Sierra removed all doubt in the ninth with a towering two-run homer off Willis Roberts.

Note — Rangers rookie Mark Teixeira, a graduate of Baltimore’s Mount St. Joseph High School, played his first game as a professional at Camden Yards. His first hit at the stadium was a run-scoring double to right in the fifth inning. “He swings the bat with authority,” Hargrove said. “He’s not nearly as good of a hitter as he’s going to be.”

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