ARLINGTON, TEX., MAY 27 -- For the Baltimore Orioles there is nothing as therapeutic as a trip to Arlington Stadium.

Even Jeff Ballard got well today as the Orioles defeated the Texas Rangers, 9-2, to complete a three-game sweep, their first of a road series since June 19-21, 1989 at Seattle.

With his parents and grandmother among the 24,050 in attendance, Ballard lasted six-plus innings and gained his first victory in six decisions this season. Three relievers each got one out to preserve a 4-2 lead in the seventh and Baltimore scored five runs against the Rangers' bullpen in the eighth.

The Orioles matched their longest winning streak of the year (three) and moved within 3 1/2 games of the first-place Milwaukee Brewers in the AL East.

They will next move to Minneapolis and the Metrodome, where they have lost 14 of their last 16 games. The Minnesota Twins, meanwhile, have won four straight, have an 18-6 record this month and are 12-6 at home this season.

So, cautious optimism was the prevailing sentiment even though the Orioles stacked up 28 runs here -- their best output in a three-game span since May 8-10, 1987 when they scored 28 against the Chicago White Sox.

Remember, these were the Rangers, with a .203 batting average in their last seven games and an earned run average of 6.23 in the last 11. They have lost 11 of their last 14 overall and seven in a row at home.

"We won three games here, and we're getting out of here before they {the Rangers} get their act together," said Orioles Manager Frank Robinson, whose club won by 12-2 Friday and 7-5 in 11 innings Saturday. "I know what they're going through because we've been through it, and still are going through it a little bit."

But the Orioles are showing signs of life.

"The last three days, we've come out and played the kind of baseball we played last year," said first baseman Randy Milligan, who walked four times and scored two runs.

Texas scored a run in the fifth to tie the game at 2, but the Orioles scored twice in the sixth. In their half of the inning, the Rangers left runners on first and second.

Texas threatened again in the seventh, but relievers Mickey Weston, Kevin Hickey and Mark Williamson combined for the three outs, leaving runners on first and second. Baltimore then blew it open in the eighth, sending 11 batters to the plate and getting four hits and three walks.

Ballard came away with his first victory since Sept. 20, and looked as good as he has since having two elbow operations over the winter.

"He's building up arm strength," Robinson said. "His velocity was there, his location was better and he threw all his pitches consistently for the first time."

Said Ballard: "It's getting better. I'm still scuffling between starts a little bit, but my breaking ball is getting sharper, and with my slider I have more of an idea controlling it."

The Rangers went ahead in the first when Julio Franco lined a 3-1 pitch into the left field seats for a two-out, bases-empty home run. It was the 10th homer Ballard had allowed in 47 1/3 innings this season. Last season he allowed 16 in 215 1/3 innings.

But he retired the next seven batters, and the Orioles got him two runs in the fourth. With one out, Bobby Witt walked Joe Orsulak, who went to third on a single by Tettleton. Witt then walked Milligan to load the bases for Bob Melvin.

Witt got ahead of him, 0-2. But after fouling off a pitch, Melvin singled to left. Orsulak scored and Tettleton headed for the plate. Third baseman Steve Buechele cut off left fielder Pete Incaviglia's throw home. The decision allowed Tettleton to score, but Buechele threw out Milligan at third, shortstop Jeff Kunkel covering. Craig Worthington popped out.

The Rangers left runners on first and third in the fourth, but tied the score in the fifth. Buechele doubled to left with one out and came home when Gary Pettis (three for his previous 36) doubled to left-center.

Baltimore came right back in the sixth inning. Tettleton led off with a double and went to third on a single by Milligan. After Melvin popped out, Worthington grounded a single to left to score Tettleton.

On the first pitch to Bill Ripken, Milligan and Worthington succeeded on a double steal. Brady Anderson replaced Ripken with an 0-1 count and struck out. Bradley singled to left. Milligan scored, but Incaviglia threw out Worthington at the plate.

In the bottom half of the inning, the Rangers put runners on first and second after two were out. However, Mike Stanley grounded into a force play.

"We've been close to breaking out, but we always seem to fall back," Ballard said. "Hopefully we'll be able to carry this through to Minnesota."