BALTIMORE -- Brian Matusz did his homework before facing the Texas Rangers, a team he struggled against throughout his brief major league career.
The study session produced the desired results.Matusz allowed five hits over eight innings, and the Baltimore Orioles used a four-run seventh to defeat Colby Lewis and the skidding Rangers 4-0 on Thursday night.Matusz (5-12) came in with a 10.95 ERA against Texas in three career starts, including two this season in which he yielded a combined 11 runs over 5 1/3 innings.This time, the rookie walked one, struck out six and allowed only two runners to get past first base. No one got as far as third against the left-hander, although Andres Blanco made a run for it before getting tagged out in a heated play."It definitely felt good out there today, especially coming off two bad outings against Texas this year," Matusz said. "It's a lineup that's really hurt me in the past."He got ready for his start by discussing each batter with pitching coach Rick Kranitz and catcher Matt Wieters."I really wanted to make sure I was prepared and had a game plan," Matusz said. "I just prepared myself really well -- along with having good stuff."
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Orioles manager Buck Showalter said, "That was a three- and four-pitch mix all night. ... It's good to see this time of year, a young pitcher have that type of success against a good club."Baltimore improved to 11-6 under Showalter, whose previous managerial job was with Texas from 2003-06.It was the fourth straight defeat for the Rangers, who were coming off a three-game sweep in Tampa Bay. Texas received a fine pitching performance from Lewis (9-10) until the seventh, when Baltimore did all its scoring on five hits.After Corey Patterson hit an RBI single, Brian Roberts doubled in two runs and scored on a single by Nick Markakis."I felt like I made a pretty good pitch to Roberts," Lewis said. "It didn't go my way. It's just the situation we're in."The game was marred by a sixth-inning confrontation between Baltimore's Ty Wigginton and Blanco, who was tagged out at third by Wigginton while trying to stretch a double into a triple. Wigginton blocked the base with his leg, and Blanco hurt his hand with a headfirst slide.Blanco and Wigginton yelled at each other, and Blanco had to be restrained by third-base coach Dave Anderson. A few players and coaches from each dugout stepped onto the field, and several pitchers emerged from the Baltimore bullpen before order was restored."I guess he wasn't happy with the play and that was it," Wigginton said."It's part of the game," Blanco said. "It's just kind of frustration. You get out, the guy blocks the base. It's your reaction, I think."Showalter called it "textbook. That's the way it's supposed to be done. That's as clean a play as you can make."The other four hits against Matusz were singles.It was the third straight game in which a Baltimore starter went eight innings -- the first time that's happened since May 2005, when Daniel Cabrera, Erik Bedard and Sidney Ponson did it.Koji Uehara completed Baltimore's third shutout of the season. Texas had been blanked only once previously.Lewis allowed four runs and nine hits in 6 2/3 innings. He's 0-5 over his past six starts despite logging a 3.20 ERA over that span."Sometimes you get pitchers that go out there and they don't have the luxury of getting runs," Rangers manager Ron Washington said. "Colby lately has been that guy."For six innings, Lewis matched Matusz zero for zero.After Wieters led off the Baltimore third with a double, Blanco made a fine diving catch of Patterson's broken-bat liner to second. The Orioles then loaded the bases before Lewis struck out Markakis and Wigginton.Baltimore didn't get another runner in scoring position until the sixth, when Wigginton hit a two-out double before Luke Scott popped out.
The eight innings matches Matusz's career high. ... Baltimore leads the season series 5-2. ... Texas' Josh Hamilton went 0-for-4. He is hitless in his last 11 at-bats and 1-for-16 in his last five games. ... The Rangers have lost six straight on the road.