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Rangers snap five-game skid while Orioles' woes continue

BALTIMORE (AP) -- The Texas Rangers ended their losing streak at
the expense of the Baltimore Orioles, who also took a hit off the
field while stumbling to their sixth successive defeat.

Alfonso Soriano homered, had three hits and drove in two runs,
leading the Rangers to a 4-2 victory Monday night that stopped a
five-game skid.

Joaquin Benoit (2-1) gave up four hits over five shutout innings
in his second start of the season. The first came last Wednesday,
when he allowed six runs in five innings in a loss to the New York
Yankees.

This time, though, the right-hander delivered a much-needed
victory.

"It's really big. We come off losing five games in a row and I
think this way, we just kind of wake up everybody," Benoit said.
"It wasn't the best game of our lives, but it was a good way to
start."

Francisco Cordero, the fifth Texas pitcher, worked the ninth for
his 23rd save, getting Miguel Tejada to ground into a game-ending
double play.

Tejada went 0-for-5, and the Orioles twice left the bases loaded
in the first four innings.

"We could have put them away," first baseman Rafael Palmeiro
said, "but we didn't. We're struggling. We're not giving our
pitchers any support."

It was a bad night for Baltimore in more ways than one. Not only
did the Orioles match their season-high losing streak, but they
also lost a possible addition to a struggling offense that stranded
10 runners and has scored more than five runs only once since the
All-Star break.

During the game, Baltimore learned that San Diego Padres first
baseman Phil Nevin blocked a proposed trade that would have sent
him to the Orioles for pitcher Sidney Ponson. Nevin had the right
to reject a deal to eight teams, including Baltimore.

"He just decided that ... family factors, personal factors,
took precedent over baseball factors," said Nevin's agent, Barry
Axelrod. "He wants to remain a part of San Diego and the ballclub.
He's always wanted to be in San Diego."

Jay Gibbons homered and Melvin Mora had three hits for the
Orioles, who dropped to two games over .500 (50-48) for the first
time since April 21.

Afterward, Baltimore manager Lee Mazzilli decided to cancel
batting practice Tuesday and ordered the players to show up just 95
minutes before the scheduled 7:05 p.m. start.

"We're going to lay off the pregame hitting. These are hot
days, and I think we're trying a little bit too hard," he said.
"Sometimes you just go and strap it on and get 15 hits in a
game," he said.

Baltimore starter Daniel Cabrera (8-8) pitched five innings,
giving up three runs, three hits and a career-high seven walks.

After Benoit left, Gibbons hit his 15th homer on the second
pitch from Ron Mahay, and Larry Bigbie added a run-scoring
groundout to bring the Orioles to 3-2 in the sixth.

But that was the extent of the Baltimore offense, which failed
to benefit from the return of catcher Javy Lopez, who spent two
months on the disabled list with a broken hand. Lopez went 0-for-4
with a strikeout.

The Rangers made it 4-2 in the eighth when Soriano singled and
scored on a sacrifice fly by Adrian Gonzalez.

"We lost five games in a row, so I think the game tonight is
very important for us," said Soriano, who scored twice.

Texas went up 1-0 in the third, thanks to Cabrera's wildness --
and a mental lapse by the right-hander. After Gary Matthews walked
and was caught stealing, Cabrera walked three straight to load the
bases. Mark Teixeira followed with a grounder to first, and Cabrera
was late covering the base on the back end of a potential double
play, allowing a run to score.

"That's a mental mistake," Mazzilli said. "That can't
happen."

Soriano hit his 25th homer leading off the fourth, and Baltimore
left the bases loaded in the bottom half.

The Rangers made it 3-0 in the fifth. Cabrera issued a pair of
two-out walks before Soriano blooped an RBI single to right.

That proved to be enough to lift the Rangers back to .500
(49-49).

"A winning streak can start tonight," Texas manager Buck
Showalter said. "We'll see tomorrow."

Game notes
Texas' David Dellucci was given the night off after going
1-for-15 in his previous five games. ... Sammy Sosa's eight-game
hitting streak ended with an 0-for-3 night.