ARLINGTON, TEX., MAY 25 -- It's feast or famine for these Baltimore Orioles.
Tonight at Arlington Stadium, their favorite ballpark in terms of won-lost record, they feasted on the Texas Rangers to the tune of 12-2 before 22,541.
Joe Orsulak had four hits, a walk and four RBI, and the Orioles stacked up 22 base runners while winning here for the 67th time in 104 games. That .644 percentage is their best at any current American League ballpark, including Memorial Stadium.
In their last 17 games, they have scored three or fewer runs 10 times and six or more five times. Two of those five have come against the Rangers, whom they defeated, 13-1, a week ago.
But the evening was not bereft of bad news. Catcher Mickey Tettleton, Orsulak's tag-team partner in carrying what offense the Orioles have had recently, left in the bottom of the first inning. A pitch had hit his right elbow with the bases loaded in the top half. He went to a hospital for X-rays, which showed no break.
"We'll see how it feels tomorrow," he said.
Manager Frank Robinson predicted it wouldn't feel too good.
"From my experience, he's going to be a out a day or so," Robinson said. "It hit in a delicate area, so he'll be pretty sore and there will probably be some swelling too."
In Orsulak's last four games, he is nine for 15 with four homers, six runs and 12 RBI. In his last 26 games, he has batted .380 to raise his average to .339.
Over the last nine games, he and Tettleton have hit .433 with 10 home runs and 29 RBI. The rest of the Orioles have hit .200 with two homers and 22 RBI.
But virtually everyone got into the act this time.
"When we're not hitting, everyone seems like Cy Young," Orsulak said. "But when we're hitting, it seems like it doesn't matter who's out there."
Kevin Brown and John Hoover were out there tonight. But it didn't really matter. Brown (5-4 after beginning the season 5-0) in 4 1/3 innings yielded seven runs on seven hits, five walks and a hit batsman. Hoover, the Orioles' first-round draft choice in 1984, got into his second major league game and in 4 2/3 innings gave up five runs (all in the seventh) on six hits and three walks.
In four games against the Rangers this season, Baltimore has batted .283. In 38 games against the rest of the American League, it is batting .227.
Pete Harnisch (5-1) was the beneficiary of this outburst. He scattered seven hits in seven innings and struck out six, the most strikeouts for and Oriole in 72 games since Bob Milacki's six strikeouts Aug. 27 against the New York Yankees.
Harnisch has been Baltimore's best and best-supported starter this season. In his last eight starts he has pitched 56 innings and allowed 18 earned runs (2.89 ERA). In his nine starts this season, the Orioles have scored 61 runs. They have averaged 3.6 for everyone else.
"It's nice to have a cushion like that," he said. "You can come right at the hitters a little more, be a little less fine."
Each team scored one run in the first inning but could have had much more.
The Orioles loaded the bases with one out on Phil Bradley's leadoff infield single and 3-2 walks to Cal Ripken and Orsulak. Brown then hit Tettleton's elbow, and the Orioles had a costly lead.
Somewhat curiously, Randy Milligan swung at Brown's next pitch -- and grounded into a double play.
Jeff Huson singled to begin Texas's half of the inning. He went to third when Rafael Palmeiro singled and scored on Harold Baines' fly to deep center. At this point, Tettleton gave way to Bob Melvin.
"I got hit on the funny bone and my hand went numb," Tettleton said. "I really couldn't throw too well, so I wasn't doing the team a lot of good being in there."
After Ruben Sierra flied out to the warning track in left, Julio Franco hit a line drive to right-center that center fielder Steve Finley cut off to put runners at the corners. With Geno Petralli at the plate, Franco stole second. But Petralli grounded to first.
Baltimore went back to work in the second. With one out Rene Gonzales, starting at third base in place of injured Craig Worthington, hit a chopper to the right of the mound. Brown tried to throw it before he caught it. It fell harmfully.
Bill Ripken, back in the lineup after missing three games because of a pinched nerve in his lower back, hit Brown's next pitch into the left field corner for a double that put Gonzales on third. Bradley walked to load the bases.
Curiously, again, Finley swung at the first pitch -- and grounded to first. But the ball was hit along the line, so first baseman Palmeiro had to backhand it and could not try to start a double play. He tagged first and threw home too late to keep Gonzales from putting Baltimore back in front.
Brown gave the Orioles their fourth bases-loaded situation by walking Cal Ripken. This time, they took advantage when Orsulak grounded a double down the left field line to make it 4-1.
"He is zeroed in," Robinson said. "He's getting good pitches, he's hitting them hard and he's hitting them safely."
In the fifth, the Orioles added three runs to their lead and knocked out Brown. Orsulak led off with a single. Melvin hit Brown's next offering into the center field seats.
Milligan walked and went to third when Brady Anderson hit to right and was thrown out trying for a double. When Brown's first pitch to Gonzales went past Petralli and almost to the screen (Milligan did not try to score), Hoover relieved.