Bedard dominant in record-tying win
Lefty Ks 11 batters, ties franchise single-season record
BALTIMORE -- Extracurricular events conspired to keep Erik Bedard to a no-decision in each of his last two starts, but nothing could stand between him and another win Tuesday night. Baltimore's ace braved a steady drizzle to provide another outstanding start in a long line of similar outings on Tuesday, when he led the Orioles to a 6-2 win over the Rangers.
Bedard didn't allow a runner to reach second base until the seventh inning, and he had a huge lead by that point. The southpaw held the Rangers to five hits -- three of them singles -- to make up for his previous two starts, in which he'd been highly effective against both Boston and New York only to see two late rallies remove him as the pitcher of record.
Bedard hasn't lost since June 10 and has won nine straight decisions. He's allowed two earned runs or less in seven of his last nine outings and is one of just four American League starters with 10 wins and an ERA under 3.00.
"I think we just appreciate it more and more every time he goes out there," said Baltimore manager Dave Trembley, who improved to 30-24 since taking over as field boss. "I think it's just showing how special of a season he's had and really what he's done. The amount of times we've gone out there and won when he pitches, it's a heck of a streak."
As if the sustained excellence isn't enough, Bedard can point to some historical tidbits. His winning streak is Baltimore's longest since Jim Palmer won 11 consecutive decisions in 1982, and there was more in the offing Tuesday night.
Bedard struck out 11 batters, and the final whiff tied Mike Mussina for the highest single-season total (218) in franchise history. Baltimore's scoreboard catalogued Bedard's place in history, but the pitcher remained oddly non-plussed.
"It feels good just to be in the same category as Mike Mussina," he said after the game. "The crowd was great. There weren't that many people and it was still pretty loud. But I didn't know until Ramon [Hernandez] gave me the ball."
"It looked like he was trying to hurry up and get it over with," added Trembley. "That's just what it looked like to me. Knowing him as I know him, it's probably not a big deal to him. It should be, but it's probably not."
Bedard (13-4) allowed just one baserunner or fewer in each of the game's first six innings, and he struck out more than one batter in four separate frames. The Rangers (54-70) only had two baserunners in the first six innings -- and both stopped at first base.
The early going was reminiscent of his last start against the Rangers, an outing that saw Bedard strike out 15 batters en route to spinning a complete-game two-hitter. He was a little more touchable this time, but not drastically so. Bedard has allowed six hits or less in seven of his last nine outings and has given up more than three earned runs just once all season.
"A lot of everything," said Bedard, explaining his luck during his streak. "A couple games I was behind and they scored runs and I got a no-decision. It's a combination of luck and throwing good here and there and getting through the game."
"It's unbelievable when he's throwing the ball like he's capable of throwing it," said first baseman Kevin Millar, who doubled in a run in the seventh inning. "Tonight, his fastball was unbelievable. It was overpowering at times, and then he used his breaking ball enough to keep them off balance. He's got great command of all three pitches."
Baltimore (58-65) got all of its offense in two three-run bursts. Tejada keyed the first rally by blasting a two-run home run into the home team's bullpen in the first inning. Baltimore's shortstop also got on base in the fifth and scored on Millar's two-out double. Aubrey Huff made it a 6-0 game by launching a two-run shot to straightaway center field.
Millar has now reached base safely in 47 straight games, which stands two behind Ken Singleton's all-time franchise record. Millar will have a chance to tie that mark in Wednesday's doubleheader.
"I love streaks. They're fun," said Millar. "I was fortunate to get a good pitch to hit and hit it over [Marlon] Byrd's head. I didn't know if he was going to make the play or what. It's fun that it's still alive."
Texas made things seem cosmetically close in the seventh inning, but Bedard left with a sturdy four-run cushion. Baltimore went quietly in the last few innings but earned Trembley's approval with its midgame burst.
"We had some scoring opportunities early and we didn't do it," said Trembley, critiquing the game's early action. "The three runs we tacked on were big. I think the game was going to sway and I don't think three runs was going to do it. I thought they were going to find a way to get back in it, and they did in the seventh."
Spencer Fordin is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.