The Baltimore Orioles might be less than a week from being at full strength. A day after Erik Bedard pitched for the first time since May 21, the Orioles said catcher Javy Lopez, out since May 25 with a broken bone in his right hand, will begin a rehabilitation assignment with Class AA Bowie. The Orioles expect Lopez to play four games for Bowie, then rejoin them for Monday's home game against the Texas Rangers. For Bowie, Lopez said he will likely be the designated hitter for two games, then catch the next two.

"I'm pretty excited," he said. "I'm a little bit nervous. It's been a long time. I don't know how I'm going to perform."

Lopez for the second consecutive day took batting practice, saying, "Today it felt better than yesterday." The catcher said he still feels pain, but it's not so severe that he can't play. He said the pain mostly affects him at bat and not behind the plate.

Baltimore, prior to Tuesday's game, was 20-26 without Lopez.

"Javy, I think, is pretty much a full go," Manager Lee Mazzilli said.

Same Lineup for a Change

For the first time since May 30-31 the Orioles used the same lineup on consecutive days. It was only the eighth time all season Baltimore trotted out the same lineup as the game before. . . .

Rafael Palmeiro's single in the first inning, the 3,008th hit of his career, put him past Al Kaline for 24th in baseball's all-time hit list. Palmeiro also singled in the third inning and is one behind Wade Boggs for 23rd place. . . .

Mazzilli said that Bedard felt no pain on Tuesday, a day after he threw six scoreless innings. Bedard, who at the time of the injury was second in the AL in ERA, has a 1.89 ERA but does not have enough innings to qualify for the league lead.