Orioles 11, Rangers 5
BALTIMORE (AP)—The same fans that jeered Sidney Ponson during the first half of the season gave the right-hander a standing ovation as he walked off the mound.
If he and the Orioles keep performing as they did Sunday, then Baltimore fans will have plenty more to cheer about the rest of the season.
Melvin Mora went 3-for-5 with a homer and four RBIs to back a strong pitching performance by a rejuvenated Ponson, and the Orioles beat Kenny Rogers and the Texas Rangers 11-5 for their season-high sixth straight victory.
Turning back the clock to a happier era, the Orioles donned the uniforms they wore in 1983—the last time they won the World Series. The Orioles (52-57) haven’t had a winning season since 1997 and are still five games under .500, but their recent run has them thinking they can’t be beat.
“Right now, every time somebody takes the mound, we believe we can win,” shortstop Miguel Tejada said. “We believe we can beat anybody.”
Ponson (7-12) allowed three runs and five hits in 7 2-3 innings, striking out four and walking four, to improve to 7-1 lifetime against Texas. He’s 4-0 in his last five starts after losing nine straight.
Asked how he felt to receive a prolonged ovation from the crowd of 32,842, Ponson replied, “I have a bad game next time, they’ll boo me again.”
If Ponson can get 11 runs and 13 hits of support every time, he probably won’t have to worry about the fickle fans. The Orioles roughed up 13-game winner Kenny Rogers and defeated the Rangers for the eighth straight time over two seasons.
“We haven’t been hitting that well lately, but today wasn’t about our hitting, it was more about my pitching and their hitting,” Rogers said. “No matter what I was throwing they knew where it was going and went after it accordingly.”
Finally playing the way they envisioned coming out of spring training, the Orioles moved within eight games of AL wild-card leaders Texas and Boston.
“Getting to .500 is our immediate goal,” manager Lee Mazzilli said. “We want to get there quick, then move from there.”
Every starter got at least one hit for the Orioles, who have won two straight home series after going since May 7-9 without winning one.
Texas came to town in first place in the AL West, but has fallen behind Oakland after being outscored 23-7 in the first three games of the four-game series.
“We don’t dwell on things like that. We’ll see what tomorrow brings,” Rangers manager Buck Showalter said.
Brian Jordan homered and drove in three runs for the Rangers, who made three errors for the second time in three games.
Up 4-1, Baltimore chased Rogers during a five-run fifth. Jerry Hairston singled in a run, and B.J. Surhoff hit a two-run double before Larry Bigbie greeted Rosman Garcia with an RBI double. Mora capped the big inning by singling in a run.
Rogers (13-5) gave up eight runs and eight hits in four-plus innings, dropping a second straight decision for the first time this season. The eight runs he allowed tied a season high, and his five walks were as many as he yielded in July.
Rogers described his performance by using an expletive.
“Use your own words if you want but that’s a pretty good one,” he said. “I don’t think anybody could assess it any differently.”
Brian Roberts hit a sacrifice fly to make it 10-1 in the sixth, and a two-run double by Jordan capped a four-run eighth for Texas.
Mora put the Orioles up 2-0 in the first, hitting a two-run drive into the left-field seats on a 1-2 pitch. It was his 18th homer, one short of his career high, set in 2002.
Jordan, a late addition to the starting lineup, homered leading off the third. He replaced Eric Young, who has a sore left wrist.
David Newhan manufactured a run for the Orioles in the bottom half. After executing a perfect drag bunt, he took second on a walk to Mora and tagged up when Gary Matthews Jr. hesitated after catching a fly to right. Newhan then trotted home on a sacrifice fly by Javy Lopez.
Mora singled in a run in the fourth to make it 4-1.
Texas has been outscored in the first inning 74-48 this season, including 6-0 in this series. … It was Mora’s fifth four-RBI game of the season. … Texas is 8-12 over its last 20 games.