Rangers no match for Bedard

Rangers no match for Bedard

ARLINGTON -- The Rangers went down swinging on Saturday night, to say the least.

Baltimore starter Erik Bedard struck out 15 and faced the minimum 27 batters in a two-hit shutout, leading his team over the Rangers, 3-0, before 32,849 at Rangers Ballpark in Arlington.

It was the fifth time in franchise history that an opposing pitcher struck out 15 against Texas, the last coming May 28, 1997 against Seattle's Randy Johnson.

"They were swinging," Bedard said. "I was throwing strikes with everything, so I guess it was tough for them to lay off."

The Rangers have been victims of dominating pitching performances this season. They were no-hit April 18 against White Sox left-hander Mark Buehrle. Buehrle faced the minimum 27 batters as well in his gem. It was the third time the Rangers have been shut out this season, the last coming June 6 against Detroit with Justin Verlander on the hill. On Saturday, however, the Rangers felt home-plate umpire Tim Welke was generous to Bedard.

Brad Wilkerson struck out three times, being called out twice and was visibly upset with Welke's strike zone.

"It seems like the strike zone has been big the past week or so, but all I can say is that we were not happy with it," Wilkerson said.

Rangers manager Ron Washington said, "It's a combination of a big strike zone and he had nasty stuff. He was good tonight. You have to tip your hat to him."

Bedard gave up a hit in the first inning to utility man Desi Relaford, who singled to left. Michael Young followed by grounding into a double play.

Sammy Sosa provided the second Ranger hit of the game, but Marlon Byrd followed with a 6-4-3 double-play groundout.

"He's a power pitcher and pounds the strike zone," said Byrd, who struck out twice. "He just had great stuff tonight. When he's on like that, you really have no shot. He beat us with his fastball and changeup, he didn't have to throw his cutter. It was just one of those nights."

It was clearly Bedard's night, as he struck out the side in the second, fifth and ninth inning. He tied a franchise record with his career-high 15 Ks. Mike Mussina struck out 15 batters twice in 2000.

Baltimore scored one run in the second and fourth innings off Rangers starter Brandon McCarthy to jump out to a 2-0 lead. In the second, Jay Gibbons hit a solo home run to right-center field, and in the fourth Aubrey Huff scored on a throwing error by Gerald Laird.

McCarthy pitched well on his 24th birthday, allowing two runs (one earned) on four hits over six innings for his sixth quality start. But, it was no match to Bedard's masterpiece.

"Any time you run into a guy like that, hats off to him," McCarthy said. "He did a hell of a job tonight. [As the opposing pitcher], you just keep throwing zeroes and give your team a shot."

In his second game back from the disabled list, McCarthy was particularly pleased with throwing his curve ball for strikes. He said he hasn't had any good outings with his curveball like he did Saturday.

The Orioles added an insurance run in the ninth inning off Rangers reliever Willie Eyre. Brandon Fahey drove in Jay Payton with an RBI single.

The Orioles evened the series at 1. The Rangers have an opportunity to remain unbeaten in their last seven series with a win Sunday heading into the All-Star break.

"It's huge tomorrow to end the first half on a winning note," Laird said.

Drew Davison is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.