Texas (54-69) at Baltimore (57-65)

Partly Cloudy Currently: Baltimore, MD
Temp: 84° F
  • Game info: 7:05 pm EDT Tue Aug 21, 2007
  • TV: KDFI, MASN
Preview | Box Score | Recap

Erik Bedard may not win the Cy Young Award this year, but a case can be made that the Baltimore Orioles ace has been the best pitcher in the American League this season.

Bedard looks for his ninth straight winning decision as the Orioles try again to open a three-game series against the Texas Rangers at Camden Yards on Tuesday night.

Bedard (12-4, 2.98 ERA) had another outstanding performance Wednesday at Yankee Stadium, giving up four hits in seven scoreless innings while walking two and striking out eight. He was in line for the win before the Orioles’ bullpen gave up three runs in the ninth.

Although Baltimore rallied to win 6-3 in 10 innings, Bedard failed to get a decision for the second consecutive start despite a 1.85 ERA in that span.

He is 8-0 with a 2.16 ERA in his last 11 starts, and hasn’t lost since June 10 against Colorado.

Bedard has surrendered three runs or fewer in 18 of his last 19 outings. He leads the majors with 207 strikeouts, ranks fourth in the AL in ERA and has the lowest opponent batting average at .210.

The left-hander had the best performance of his five-year career in his only start this season against the Rangers. He tossed a two-hitter with no walks struck out a career-high 15 in a 3-0 victory on July 7.

Bedard is 3-1 with a 2.48 ERA in five career starts against Texas, including 2-0 with an 0.68 ERA in two home games.

Rain postponed Monday’s scheduled series opener. With rain also in the forecast for Tuesday, the Orioles (57-65) received permission from Major League Baseball to hold a doubleheader Wednesday.

Monday’s game also was supposed to be Sammy Sosa’s return to Baltimore, where the Rangers’ slugger spent the 2005 season after becoming one of the game’s best home-run hitters during 13 seasons with the Chicago Cubs.

With Baltimore, Sosa struggled with injuries and landed on the disabled list twice while batting just .221—well below his .273 career average. He finished with 14 home runs and 45 RBIs in 102 games, his lowest totals in all categories since his first season with the Cubs in 1992.

Sosa is batting .246 with 16 homers and a team-leading 72 RBIs in 96 games for Texas (54-69). The seven-time All-Star appears to be enjoying his return to baseball, during which he finally passed the 600 home-run plateau and is fifth all-time with 604.

“The numbers I have are not the numbers that I wanted to have right now,” Sosa told the Rangers’ official Web site. “I could have better numbers, but I can’t be that greedy because I was out for a year. To come back to baseball and have the numbers I have right now, I can’t ask more of myself.”

Baltimore’s Kevin Millar has reached base via a hit, walk or hit by pitch in 46 straight games, the team’s longest streak since Cal Ripken had a 46-game run in 1998. Ken Singleton set the club record of 49 in 1977.

Texas’ Vicente Padilla (3-8, 6.30) will try to keep Millar in check. The right-hander is coming off a strong start Wednesday after being activated from the DL, when he yielded an unearned run and four hits with eight strikeouts in five innings of a 4-3 win over Kansas City.

Padilla, who had triceps inflammation, now will try to repeat that performance on the road, where he is 1-5 with a 9.00 ERA in eight starts.

He was stellar in his last start against the Orioles on July 13, 2006, allowing one run and four hits in seven innings of a 15-1 win.

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Starting Pitchers

V. Padilla Bos vs. E. Bedard LAD
6-10 Record 13-5
5.76 ERA 3.16
71 K 221
50 BB 57
1.63 WHIP 1.09

Scoreboard

Tuesday, Aug 21