ARLINGTON, TEX., JULY 4 -- Dave Johnson got his team-leading eighth victory tonight. The Orioles supplied him with nine runs. The bullpen iced the 9-4 victory over the Texas Rangers before a season-high 41,242 at Arlington Stadium with four shutout innings.
Yet Johnson was disgusted.
"I don't feel like I won," he said after working five-plus innings. "I feel like I let the team down by giving up four runs and letting them back in it."
Johnson wasn't flashy. But considering the circumstances, he didn't have to be. The win was his sixth without a loss this season when pitching following a Baltimore loss. The Orioles are 8-1 with Johnson starting after they lost.
And this from a guy who spent eight years in the minors, came to spring training with a whopping four major league starts in 83 days of service, and was anything but a lock to make the rotation.
Manager Frank Robinson, who says Johnson is one of his most pleasant surprises of the season, isn't complaining.
"I like the way he battles," Robinson said. "He doesn't have a world of stuff, but he gives you everything he's got every time out."
The victory snapped a two-game losing streak that was a part of a slide in during which Baltimore had dropped 14 of 19 games.
Johnson has two of those five victories.
"He won't beat himself," Robinson said. "You have to beat him."
According to Johnson, though, this start was different.
For four innings, he was doing his Nolan Ryan impersonation. After going four starts without a strikeout, Johnson posted four while facing the minimum 12 batters.
Geno Petralli had the only hit, a ground ball up the middle that shortstop Cal Ripken knocked down behind second base. Ripken, who tied Ed Brinkman's major league record of handling 331 chances at shortstop without an error while extending his errorless streak to 75 games, recovered but threw wide and forced Randy Milligan off the bag.
"In the first four innings, I threw the ball better than I have all year," Johnson said. "I got away from that a little in the fifth and sixth."
In the fifth, Ruben Sierra led off with a 404-foot home run to right and Pete Incaviglia, one out later, launched a 406-foot shot that snuck over Mike Devereaux's glove above the center field fence and tied the score, 2-2.
But Johnson was more upset with the sixth. The Orioles, after scoring twice in the second, had taken a 6-2 lead with a four-run sixth that featured Sam Horn's first home run since returning from Class AAA Rochester Tuesday. But Johnson gave up a leadoff single to pinch hitter Gary Pettis in the bottom of the inning, and Jeff Huson, not known for his power, chased Johnson when he lined a double off the right field wall.
"Mentally, I got away from" the way he was pitching, said Johnson, who dismissed fatigue due to the 99-degree heat as an excuse. "There's no excuse for it. I feel like I should have a complete-game shutout in the books right now."
Instead, he'll have to settle for a win. The Orioles' offense gets the credit. Every Baltimore starter except Mickey Tettleton had a hit. Leadoff hitter Steve Finley went three for four with two RBI. Joe Orsulak continued his assault on Texas pitching, going two for five, lowering his average at Arlington Stadium this season to .476 (10 for 21). The Nos. 6-9 batters -- Ripken, Horn, Craig Worthington and Devereaux -- scored eight of the nine runs.
"That's what we have to get," Robinson said of the top-to-bottom production. "We're not going to be successful if we have to rely on one or two people."
So far, though, the Orioles have been able to rely on Johnson.
Phil Bradley rejoined the Orioles shortly before the game. Bradley, who went on the disabled list June 22 to have damaged cartilage repaired in his left wrist, is eligible to come off the DL on Tuesday and said he should be ready to play when teams return July 12 from the all-star break.
"I still don't feel like I have a lot of strength in my left hand, but I've started swinging the bat," he said.
Bradley said he's played with the injury for five years, but it grew worse late last season.
"I just felt like it was time to see what could be done with it," he said. "In the past, I've gotten a lot more doubles and triples, but this year I'm not getting them."
Bradley had eight doubles and a triple when he went on the DL. Over the last five seasons, he's averaged over 30 doubles and seven triples.
The surgery "ought to help increase my bat speed," he said. "That will make a big difference." . . .
Brady Anderson, who was eligible to come off the DL on Sunday, said he expects to begin a rehabilitation assignment at Class A Frederick or Class AA Hagerstown "sometime around the all-star break." Anderson, who sprained his left ankle and went on the DL June 9, said he's not 100 percent in terms of running. And Robinson "wants me 100 percent." . . .
Reliever Joe Price, who strained his lower back June 28, is expected to rejoin the club Friday in Chicago.