Texas sweeps doubleheader from Anaheim

ARLINGTON, Texas (AP) -- One of the worst pitching staffs in the
majors is starting to show sings of improvement under new Texas Rangers pitching coach Orel Hershiser.

Dave Burba allowed one run in 6 2-3 innings and Alex Rodriguez
hit his 22nd homer as the Rangers completed a doubleheader sweep
and won their season-high seventh straight game, 3-2 over the
Anaheim Angels on Monday night.

''Orel is one of the best communicators I've been around in
baseball,'' Rodriguez said. ''He's been everywhere. He's been a
world champion, won the Cy Young.''

In the opener, rookie right-hander Joaquin Benoit pitched five
innings to lead Texas to an 8-5 win before being sent back to the
minors for the third time this season.

Burba (4-4) had lost his previous four decisions and hadn't won
since May 11 amid speculation he was in danger of being dropped
from the rotation.

Burba gave up eight hits, but didn't allow a run until Bengie
Molina's RBI double in the seventh. Jay Powell came on and struck
out pinch-hitter Scott Spiezio with runners on first and third to
preserve the Rangers' 3-1 lead.

Hershiser, hired last weekend after the firing of Oscar Acosta,
made several trips to the mound during the doubleheader to deliver
positive messages.

''I thought he was going to come out in pompoms at one point,''
Burba said. ''It's been a long time since I won a game. Orel kept
encouraging me. It's great to get that positive feedback.''

Garret Anderson's RBI groundout in the eighth off John Rocker
pulled the Angels within 3-2, but Rocker struck out Tim Salmon with
the tying run on third to end the threat.

Hideki Irabu got three outs for his 14th save.

Angels manager Mike Scioscia was disappointed at the sweep by a
team Anaheim had beaten in six of the first eight meetings this

Benoit kept the Rangers in the first game before he was optioned
to Triple-A Oklahoma as Texas called up right-hander Aaron Myette
to add bullpen depth.

Rafael Palmeiro and Herbert Perry drove in two runs apiece in
the opener and Rodriguez scored four runs, most by a Ranger this

Palmeiro had two hits and the go-ahead sacrifice fly in the
fifth inning, and Perry went 3-for-5 as the Rangers snapped
Anaheim's four-game winning streak. Darin Erstad homered twice for
the Angels.

Benoit (2-0), called up from the minors before the game, trailed
3-0 after two innings in his second big league start before
settling down while his teammates rallied. Benoit allowed two
earned runs and five hits over five innings.

Texas' bullpen allowed two runs and two hits over the final four
innings. Francisco Cordero recorded the first out in the ninth on a
grounder to first baseman Mike Lamb, with Cordero covering first.
Cordero was lifted with a muscle strain behind his right shoulder
after throwing one pitch to the next batter.

The Rangers said Cordero, their most recent in a series of
closers, is day-to-day.

Irabu got the last two outs, allowing Erstad's second homer of
the game. Erstad has six homers on the season and seven career
multihomer games.

After Erstad's first homer gave Anaheim a 3-0 lead in the second
inning, Texas tied the game on Michael Young's two-run single in
the second and Palmeiro's RBI single in the third off Aaron Sele

The Rangers knocked out Sele with two runs in the fifth.
Palmeiro hit a sacrifice fly and Perry's RBI single made it 5-3.
Sele allowed five runs and nine hits in 4 1-3 innings.

In the second game, the Rangers got a first-inning solo homer
from Rodriguez off John Lackey, making his major league debut.

Texas made it 3-0 in the fourth on Palmeiro's RBI groundout and
Bill Haselman's RBI double.

Lackey (0-1), a West Texas native of Abilene who played one
college season for nearby Texas-Arlington, allowed three runs and
six hits over seven innings. Lackey had 100 friends and family in

''It was exciting because it was here in Texas,'' Lackey said.
''I wasn't that nervous. I felt comfortable but they're a great
hitting team. I thought I pitched well.''

Game notes
After the first game, the Angels sent reliever Brendan
Donnelly to Triple-A Salt Lake City and called up Lackey. Donnelly
pitched 2 2-3 innings in the opener. Lackey will be sent back to
Salt Lake City to get more experience. ... Lackey grew up a Rangers
fan and attended Texas home games each summer while growing up. ...
The doubleheader was the makeup for an April 7 rainout. ...The
Rangers' last seven-game winning streak was May 15-27, 2000.