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Erickson loses debut against former team

BALTIMORE (AP) -- In his return to Baltimore, Scott Erickson
accomplished just about everything he set out to do in his debut
with the Texas Rangers.

The right-hander felt strong on the mound, limited the Orioles
to three runs and received praise from his manager.

The only thing missing was a win.

That went to Rodrigo Lopez, who outpitched his former teammate
in leading Baltimore to its fifth straight victory, 3-1 Saturday.

Lopez (9-7) allowed only two hits, walked none and struck out
seven in 6 2/3 innings. He faced only one batter over the minimum
and retired his first 10 hitters, six by strikeouts.

"What a great game he pitched," Orioles manager Lee Mazzilli
said.

Lopez had retired eight straight hitters when Mazzilli lifted
him with two outs and none on in the seventh with left-handed
batter Hank Blalock coming to the plate.

"If it was my decision, I would stay on in every game, not just
in today's game," Lopez said. "He made his decision. It was the
right decision and it was good for the team."

Said Mazzilli: "That's the spot when you've got to go to your
best. What Rodrigo did was fantastic, and you want him to go out on
a good note."

B.J. Ryan struck out Blalock and gave up one hit in 1 1/3
innings. Jorge Julio worked the ninth for his 18th save in 20
chances despite allowing a home run to Alfonso Soriano.

Erickson (0-1) yielded 10 hits and two walks in 5 2/3 innings,
but was sharp enough to keep the damage to a minimum.

"All that matters is you want to win the game. We just got
outplayed a little bit today," he said. "I did give up 10 hits in
almost six innings, but all singles, actually two doubles. They
weren't hit real hard, but just found the open spots, which is
pretty typical for my career."

Erickson was with the Orioles from 1995 through last season.
Obtained in a trade with the New York Mets last week, he pitched
well enough to maintain his spot in the starting rotation.

"I'm proud of the effort by Scott today. His stuff was good,
and he gave us a chance to win. That was good to see," Texas
manager Buck Showalter said. "I feel bad for Scott. I think he
broke five bats that went for base hits and things fell well for
them."

Erickson missed the 2001 season after undergoing elbow ligament
replacement surgery and sat out last year following a shoulder
operation. He was 79-68 with the Orioles and won two playoff games.

"It was nice to come back here. I had some great memories here
and great years and a great experience playing for the Orioles, and
still there's nothing I would've rather done today than win the
game and beat them," he said. "You want to go out and win every
game possible."

Rafael Palmeiro passed Mel Ott on the career hits list to help
the Orioles match their longest winning streak of the season, and
Miguel Tejada reached the 100-RBI mark for the fifth consecutive
year.

"I'm happy to get 100 RBI, but what makes me more happy is the
way we play," Tejada said.

Palmeiro had two hits to move into 35th place on the career list
with 2,877. His third-inning double was his 1,139th extra-base hit,
tying him with Ty Cobb for 10th place.

The loss kept the Rangers a half-game behind first-place Oakland
in the AL West. Texas, which has scored only two runs in the first
two games of the series, has dropped seven straight to Baltimore.

The Orioles went up 1-0 in the first inning when David Newhan
drew a one-out walk and scored on a double by Tejada.

Erickson worked out of a bases-loaded jam in the second, but
Baltimore added two runs in the third. Tejada reached on a
fielder's choice and went to third on a double by Palmeiro before
Javy Lopez hit a sacrifice fly and B.J. Surhoff singled in
Palmeiro.

Game notes
Baltimore (51-57) moved within six games of .500 for the
first time since June 15. ... Julio's save was his third during
Baltimore's winning streak. ... Before the game, Texas recalled
right-hander Rosman Garcia from Triple-A Oklahoma and optioned
left-hander Ryan Snare to the minor league club.