- The Washington Times - Sunday, July 16, 2006

BALTIMORE — Fastball, changeup, curveball. It didn’t matter which pitch Erik Bedard threw, because they all seemed to hit the corners with uncanny accuracy.

The result was another impressive performance by the young left-hander, who has put up some amazing numbers since perfecting his changeup and mastering the fine art of throwing strikes.

Bedard allowed one unearned run in seven innings to win his sixth straight start, and the Baltimore Orioles ended their scoring slump at the expense of rookie John Rheinecker in an 8-1 victory over the Texas Rangers yesterday at Camden Yards.

Bedard (11-6) gave up six hits, walked one and struck out six. He has a 1.07 ERA during his six-game run, and has allowed only two earned runs in 36 innings over his last five starts.

“He’s been absolutely phenomenal. It’s fun to watch,” Orioles manager Sam Perlozzo said. “He’s gradually growing into becoming a great pitcher.”

Working with pitching coach Leo Mazzone, Bedard recently added a changeup to his list of pitches. That made his fastball more effective, but that’s only one reason why Bedard has been so efficient lately.

“The changeup is a big factor,” he said. “Throwing strikes with that helps me a lot with the rest of my pitches.”

Said Perlozzo: “I’m sure it’s a combination of things, but I think the changeup got him on the right track. He’s been locating his fastball on the outer part of the plate and working ahead in the count. His curveball’s been great, too. He makes it tough for the opposition to hit.”

The Rangers will vouch for that.

“He kept us off balance all day. He throws strikes consistently,” said Mark Teixeira, who went 0-for-3 and got Texas’ lone walk. “He’s definitely improved as a pitcher; we have a good-hitting lineup and he held us down all day.”

Jeff Conine had three hits and two RBI, and Melvin Mora drove in two runs and scored twice for the Orioles, who had totaled two runs and 10 hits in their two previous games. Every starter had a hit by the fifth inning as Baltimore built an 8-0 lead.

The Rangers’ lone run came on a sixth-inning RBI single by Ian Kinsler following a throwing error by Mora from third base.

Before that, Texas didn’t get a runner past first base.

“[Bedard] was tough. He was very impressive,” Rangers manager Buck Showalter said. “He’s been throwing well against a lot of people. We knew his velocity and arm strength were up, and he presents a lot of challenges to hitters.”

Texas was 4-0 against the Orioles this season, outscoring them 27-5.

Making his 10th start, Rheinecker (4-4) yielded a career-high seven runs in 32/3 innings, his shortest stint of the season. His ERA rose from 3.96 to 4.82.

“He didn’t particularly give up a lot of hard hit balls, but the way Bedard was pitching you’ve got to have a real good outing,” Showalter said.

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