By TAYLOR BECHTOLD
(AP) — Not only were the Baltimore Orioles baseball’s top home run-hitting team in June, but their ability to hit the long ball has also keyed their success against the Texas Rangers in 2014.
After belting four homers in their first game without Manny Machado, the Orioles will try to continue their barrage Tuesday night when they look to send the Rangers to their longest road skid in six years.
Baltimore didn’t seem to miss Machado in a series-opening 7-1 victory at Camden Yards on Monday. Before the contest, Major League Baseball upheld the third baseman’s five-game suspension for throwing his bat on the field June 8.
Steve Pearce had his first career two-homer game, while Adam Jones and J.J. Hardy each added a solo shot to help the Orioles (43-39) pick up their third win in seven contests.
“When you lose somebody like (Machado), you’ve got to find a way to do it,” said Pearce, who is tied for the team lead with a .327 average to go along with nine homers and 25 RBIs in only 147 at-bats.
Baltimore hopes to keep getting it done with the long ball after hitting a MLB-best 46 home runs in June. Jones led the onslaught last month, finishing one homer behind the major league lead with nine.
Now the Orioles look to extend their season-best streak by homering for the 11th straight contest as they try to take the first two in this four-game set.
They’ve batted .327 with 10 home runs while winning three of four meetings with the Rangers (37-45) in 2014. Jones has played a major role, going 10 for 17 with three homers and seven RBIs in the season series.
The three-time All-Star went 2 for 3 with two RBIs off Texas starter Nick Martinez on June 4, while Nick Markakis and Chris Davis both homered in a 6-5 road win.
After allowing six runs – four earned – over 5 1-3 innings in that contest, Martinez (1-5, 4.65 ERA) hopes to come through with a better performance to help the Rangers avoid dropping seven straight road games for the first time since April 2008.
“I have to tell my team to keep battling,” manager Ron Washington said. “There are nights that go like this. Hopefully tomorrow we can do it to them.”
Martinez has gone 0-3 with a 10.43 ERA in his four home starts, but he’s pitched better in his six away from Arlington with a 1-1 record and 3.53 ERA. The right-hander is winless in his last six outings overall dating to a victory at Detroit on May 24.
Baltimore’s T.J. McFarland (0-1, 2.70) is scheduled to get the spot start after working exclusively out of the bullpen this season. In his only career start, he allowed three runs over 2 2-3 innings in a 4-3 home win over the New York Yankees on June 28, 2013.
The left-hander gave up only one run over 15 2-3 innings in eight relief appearances in June, including 2 2-3 shutout innings in two outings versus Texas.
The Rangers have averaged 2.7 runs while hitting .189 with runners in scoring position over their last 11 games. Carlos Pena (3 for 26), Rougned Odor (4 for 29), Michael Choice (5 for 58) and Alex Rios (1 for 22) are among those mired in slumps.
Adrian Beltre, however, has been on a tear, going 15 for 27 with seven RBIs over his last eight contests. The star third baseman is also batting .462 with nine home runs and 18 RBIs in his last 13 games versus Baltimore.
Updated July 1, 2014
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