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 on Saturday.
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 3 2/3 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.
The Rangers had not allowed more than four runs in eight straight games, going 6-2 in that span. The streak crumbled under the weight of a five-run fourth inning that provided the Orioles with a 7-0 lead.
All the runs came with two outs. Mora hit a two-run double and Miguel Tejada drove in a run with an infield single to chase Rheinecker. Conine then singled in a run off Scott Feldman and Ramon Hernandez followed with an RBI single.
In the fifth, Luis Terrero followed singles by Javy Lopez and Kevin Millar with his first hit of the season, an RBI single to center. He was 0-for-19.
The Orioles got a run in the first when Mora was hit by a pitch and scored when Texas right fielder Mark DeRosa let a single by Tejada skip past him.
Doubles by Brian Roberts and Conine made it 2-0 in the third.
|Erik Bedard has a 1.07 ERA during his six-game winning streak. He strikes out six on Saturday. (AP)|
|Players of the Game|
|Gary Matthews Jr., CF||4||1||1||0||0||2||0||.329|
|Ian Kinsler, 2B||4||0||2||1||0||0||0||.331|
|Michael Young, SS||4||0||0||0||0||2||1||.309|
|Mark Teixeira, 1B||3||0||0||0||1||2||0||.276|
|Mark DeRosa, RF||4||0||2||0||0||1||0||.344|
|Hank Blalock, 3B||3||0||0||0||0||2||3||.280|
|Kevin Mench, DH||3||0||0||0||0||0||3||.264|
|Gerald Laird, C||3||0||1||0||0||0||2||.324|
|Jerry Hairston Jr., LF||3||0||0||0||0||1||1||.215|
|RBI - Ian Kinsler (27)|
|2-OUT RBI - Ian Kinsler (9)|
|Team LOB - 4|
|Outfield Assists - Mark DeRosa 1|
|DP - Feldman-Young-Teixeira|
|E - Mark DeRosa (2, Misplayed grounder)|
|John Rheinecker (L,4-4)||3.2||7||7||7||2||0||0||4.82|
|HBP - Mora (by John Rheinecker)|
|Pitches-Strikes - John Rheinecker 67-40, Scott Feldman 23-15, Joaquin Benoit 10-6, Wes Littleton 22-11, Ron Mahay 17-13|
|Ground Balls-Fly Balls - John Rheinecker 10-1, Scott Feldman 2-0, Wes Littleton 1-1, Ron Mahay 1-1|
|Batters Faced - John Rheinecker 21, Scott Feldman 7, Joaquin Benoit 3, Wes Littleton 6, Ron Mahay 4|
|Brian Roberts, 2B||4||2||1||0||1||0||4||.296|
|Melvin Mora, 3B||4||2||1||2||0||0||1||.281|
|Miguel Tejada, SS||4||1||2||1||1||0||0||.311|
|Brandon Fahey, SS||0||0||0||0||0||0||0||.289|
|Jeff Conine, LF||5||0||3||2||0||0||1||.265|
|Corey Patterson, CF||0||0||0||0||0||0||0||.271|
|Ramon Hernandez, C||5||0||1||1||0||2||4||.272|
|Javy Lopez, DH||3||1||1||0||1||0||0||.273|
|Kevin Millar, 1B||4||1||2||0||0||0||1||.249|
|Nick Markakis, RF||4||1||2||0||0||0||1||.274|
|Luis Terrero, CF-LF||3||0||1||1||1||0||0||.050|
|2B - Brian Roberts (18, Rheinecker), Melvin Mora (17, Rheinecker), Jeff Conine (15, Rheinecker)|
|RBI - Melvin Mora 2 (47), Miguel Tejada (63), Jeff Conine 2 (30), Ramon Hernandez (62), Luis Terrero (1)|
|2-OUT RBI - Melvin Mora 2 (22), Miguel Tejada (29), Jeff Conine 2 (8), Ramon Hernandez (25)|
|Team LOB - 9|
|Outfield Assists - Luis Terrero 1|
|DP - Terrero-Millar, Tejada-B. Roberts-Millar|
|E - Melvin Mora (6, Wild throw)|
|Erik Bedard (W,11-6)||7||6||1||0||1||6||0||4.02|
|WP - Erik Bedard (3)|
|Pitches-Strikes - Erik Bedard 97-63, LaTroy Hawkins 13-8, Chris Ray 16-10|
|Ground Balls-Fly Balls - Erik Bedard 7-6, LaTroy Hawkins 1-1|
|Batters Faced - Erik Bedard 26, LaTroy Hawkins 3, Chris Ray 3|
|Attendance - 35804|
|Game Time - 2:37|
|Temperature - 94|
|Umpires - Home - Ron Kulpa, First Base - Dan Iassogna, Second Base - Lance Barksdale, Third Base - Dale Scott|