- The Washington Times - Tuesday, August 10, 2004

BALTIMORE — Melvin Mora isn’t slowing down, and neither are the Baltimore Orioles.

Mora slugged two home runs as the Orioles capped a perfect seven-game homestand with a 7-3 defeat of Texas before 39,850 at Camden Yards.

Dave Borkowski pitched six strong innings for the Orioles (53-57), who moved within four games of .500 for the first time since they were 27-31 on June13. Baltimore finished its first 7-0 homestand since Sept.9-14, 1969, and is on its first seven-game winning streak since taking 13 straight in 1999.

“I think the guys see the light,” manager Lee Mazzilli said. “They’re doing the things that we know they’re capable of doing. We’re going to ride the wave.”

Mora has been a first-half player much of his career, with a career average of .302 before the All-Star break and .236 afterward. His on-base and slugging percentages reflect a similar chasm, though injuries ruined much of his second half last season.

Things have changed this year for Mora, who has hit safely in 18 of 22 games since being activated from the disabled list July18. The third baseman is batting .361 with eight home runs in that stretch, with impressive on-base (.442) and slugging (.735) percentages as well.

“I don’t try to hit a home run,” Mora said. “When you go up there and get take a good swing, things can happen.”

He had plenty of good swings yesterday. Mora got a green light on 3-0 and smacked starter Mike Bacsik’s fastball to deep left for a two-run homer in the first inning to put the Orioles ahead 2-1. Four innings later, Mora greeted reliever Joaquin Benoit with another homer to left-center. It was his career-high 20th of the season, besting his total of 19 in 2002.

“He’s a kid who has great, quiet hands,” Mazzilli said. “He has an idea of exactly what he’s looking for and what he wants to do.”

The Rangers didn’t give him another chance to cause more havoc. With men on second and third in the seventh, Ron Mahay walked him on four pitches to face All-Star shortstop Miguel Tejada, who then knocked in an insurance run on a groundout.

Meanwhile, the Orioles received another fine outing from Borkowski (3-2), who has been a pleasant surprise since he was brought up from Class AAA Ottawa last month. The right-hander did get off to a rough start, surrendering a homer to David Dellucci in the first before loading the bases against Texas’ potent lineup. But Borkowski got a liner to second and a ground ball to escape the inning.

It was the last time he would struggle — or trail. After Mora’s two-run homer, Tejada walked and then scored on Javy Lopez’s double to put Baltimore up 3-1.

The Rangers manufactured a run without a hit in the third, but Baltimore padded its lead when Larry Bigbie belted a two-run homer off Bascik (1-1) to bump the lead to 5-1.

“One run for these guys, the way they’re swinging the bats, is no big deal,” said Borkowski, who allowed six baserunners. “It’s no huge hole.”

That sizzling offense soon could get even more help. Outfielder Jay Gibbons, on the disabled list with a strained left hip flexor, will join the Orioles on their trip to Anaheim and could be activated in time for tonight’s game.

It was the Rangers’ ninth straight loss to the Orioles, dating back to last season. Texas fell into third place in the American League West, 2 games behind Oakland and a game behind surging Anaheim.

Notes — Reliever Jason Grimsley slipped on the mound in the eighth and suffered what Mazzilli described as a hip flexor injury. The right-hander is day-to-day. … The Orioles completed a four-game sweep of the Rangers for the first time since Aug.13-15, 1991, at Memorial Stadium. … First baseman David Segui, on the DL with left knee inflammation, will begin a rehab assignment at Class AA Bowie tonight.

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