Baltimore ended May with eight wins in their last 11 games, including a a 7-1 win over Texas on Saturday night, as the Orioles, who reached .500 (27-27) for the first time since May 10.
The team will look to Ponson to keep up his strong pitching, and help them get June off to a similar start.
In his last outing, Ponson pitched an eight-hitter for Baltimore, which pounded Anaheim in a 12-4 rout on Tuesday.
It was the veteran right-hander’s 19th career complete game, and unlike last season, the effort earned him a victory.
Ponson had three complete games last season, but failed to post a win in any of those games.
This season is going quite well for Ponson, due largely in part to his teammates’ improved run support when he pitches.
A year ago, the Orioles scored 4.09 runs per game in Ponson’s starts, and is getting nearly six runs a game per start this season.
“I think I’m the same pitcher as last year,” Ponson said. “Last year, I lost a lot of quality games. This year, I’m getting run support, and it shows; I’m getting the wins. I can’t do nothing about it.”
It’s not just the offense, though, as the right-hander is improving his own performance as well. Last year, he gave up 26 home runs in 28 starts. This year, he’s given up four home runs in 10 starts.
The Rangers have scored only two runs in their last two games.
A slumping Alex Rodriguez hasn’t helped, as he went 0-for-3 with a walk and is 13-for-65 (.200) over his last 17 games.
STANDINGS: Rangers - 4th place, 1 1/2 GB, AL West. Orioles - 4th place, 5 GB, AL East.
RANGERS PROBABLE STARTER: Colby Lewis (4-3, 7.74 ERA). The rookie right-hander pitched well Tuesday at Tampa Bay, holding the Devil Rays to one run on four hits over five innings of a 4-2 win. The victory was Lewis’ first in his last seven starts. He’s never started a game against Baltimore in his career, but allowed four of the six Orioles he faced in relief at Texas last year to reach base.
ORIOLES PROBABLE STARTER: Ponson (6-3, 4.09 ERA). Ponson is 5-1 with a 4.77 ERA in 10 career starts against Texas.
OFFENSIVE LEADERS: Rangers - Hank Blalock, .360 avg.; Juan Gonzalez, 16 HRs; Carl Everett, 42 RBIs and 45 runs; Rodriguez, 6 SBs. Orioles - Mora, .351 avg. and 33 runs; Jay Gibbons and Tony Batista, 8 HRs; Jeff Conine, 39 RBIs; Jerry Hairston, 14 SBs.
SEASON SERIES: Orioles, 4-2.
STREAKS AND NOTES: Rangers - OF Juan Gonzalez is hitting .400 (6-for-15) with a home run and five RBIs against RHP Ponson. … 3B Blalock went 2-for-4 on Saturday and is 8-for-16 against Baltimore this year. … SS Rodriguez is hitting just .200 (7-for-35) with 11 strikeouts against RHP Ponson in his career, but two of those hits are home runs and owns a team-best eight RBIs. Orioles - RHP Ponson is 4-1 with a 3.50 ERA in May. … OF Luis Matos (3-for-4) has hit in all eight games since his recall from Triple-A Ottawa on May 23, including seven multihit games. … OF Mora extended his career-high hitting streak to 13 on Saturday.
ROAD/HOME RECORDS: Rangers - 11-15 on the road; Orioles - 13-14 at home.
INJURIES: Rangers - IF Herbert Perry (shoulder), 15-day DL; OF Doug Glanville (hamstring), 15-day DL; RHP Chan Ho Park (Park), 15-day DL; RHP Jeff Zimmerman (elbow), 60-day DL; OF Rusty Greer (neck), 60-day DL. Orioles - IF Jerry Hairston Jr. (foot), 15-day DL; OF Larry Bigbie (shoulder), 15-day DL; RHP Rodrigo Lopez (ribs), 15-day DL; LHP Erik Bedard (elbow), 60-day DL; RHP Scott Erickson (shoulder), 60-day DL; OF Albert Belle (hip), 60-day DL; OF Marty Cordova (elbow), 60-day DL.