Wednesday, April 9, 2008

Orioles Stomp Rangers to Win 6th in Row

AP Sports Writer

The surprising Baltimore Orioles can win on the road too. Scott Moore and Luke Scott hit early home runs and Baltimore ruined the Texas Rangers' home opener with an 8-1 victory Tuesday.

The Orioles (6-1) have the American League's best record and a six-game winning streak, already matching their longest of last season.

Moore led off the second with a homer, and Scott followed an inning later with a two-run shot that made it 4-0 off Jason Jennings (0-2). Aubrey Huff matched a career high with four hits, and drove in four runs.

Brian Burres (1-0) allowed only one run pitching into the seventh, when he gave up a leadoff single that turned into the only Texas run. Burres struck out three and allowed seven hits, six of them singles.

Jennings, who joined Hall of Famer and new team president Nolan Ryan as the only Texas natives to start a Rangers home opener, struggled with his command. The homers came after Jennings threw 16 of his first 25 pitches for balls and walked the bases loaded in the first before an inning-ending grounder on which he covered first base — then, in frustration, hurled the ball deep into the stands.

Huff thought he had his third homer of the season after rounding the bases in the sixth. First-base umpire Bruce Dreckman initially signaled homer after Huff's ball into the right-field corner hit the top of the wall. But after manager Ron Washington came out and argued, the umpires conferred and called it a ground-rule double, allowing two runs to score for a 6-0 lead. Television replays showed the ball didn't clear the yellow line.

A two-run single by Huff in the eighth made it 8-1.

Scott, teammates with Jennings in Houston last season, went 2-for-4 and has nine hits his last 14 at-bats.

Jennings, the former first-round pick and 2002 NL Rookie of the Year with Colorado, signed as a free agent after a miserable season (2-9, 6.45 ERA) with the Astros that ended with surgery in August to repair a torn flexor tendon in his right elbow. He pitched a team-high 17 innings during spring with a 2.12 ERA, but has allowed eight runs and four homers in two regular season starts.

Pitching for the first time ever at Rangers Ballpark, 29-year-old Dallas native Jennings struck out one and walked four in 4 2-3 innings. The right-hander retired the Orioles in order only once.

Milton Bradley was 2-for-4 in his first home game for Texas, but was easily thrown out trying to score from third on a wild pitch by Burres that only went a few feet behind the catcher. He was originally supposed to play right field, but manager Ron Washington switched him to designated hitter because of the threat of rain that never came. The Rangers are still being cautious in Bradley's recovery from knee surgery.

Notes:@ Texas is 18-19 in home openers, and 6-9 at Rangers Ballpark. ... This is Baltimore's best start since going 7-1 in 1998. ... Rangers owner Tom Hicks left his field-level seats in the top of the third inning, only minutes before the start of Liverpool's game against Arsenal in the European Champions League. Hicks owns the Liverpool squad, and retreated to his bunker suite to watch that game, though it was still on the television he has at his field seat.
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