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BAL@TEX: Reynolds jacks a two-run homer in the second

ARLINGTON -- The Orioles arrived in Arlington -- a city that provided some solace during a dismal 2010 season -- hopeful that Sunday's sweep-avoiding win in Atlanta could be the start of a slow and steady climb back to .500.

Instead, a struggling Baltimore club -- which started the season with more promise than in recent history -- continued to plummet, as the men in red, white and blue left an already-thin Orioles pitching corps black and blue. The O's gave up 18 hits, squandering a trio of their own homers -- two off the bat of a red-hot Mark Reynolds -- in a 13-4 series-opening loss to Texas.

A lethal Rangers lineup came out swinging, pummeling Orioles starter Chris Jakubauskas to the tune of six earned runs in a six-out outing indicative of an evening fueled by a season-high 10 extra-base hits for Texas. The final result was an old-fashioned Texas trouncing, as the Rangers scored nine runs in the first four innings, never putting the game's final outcome in doubt.

"It's just frustrating," said Jakubauskas, who has given up 11 earned runs in his last seven innings, putting his roster spot in jeopardy. "I don't like pitching like this. I am better than this, bottom line. I am better than how I've been pitching lately."

Monday's loss was also a far cry from last season's trip to Rangers Ballpark, when the Orioles (36-46) swept a four-game set heading into the All-Star break in one of their most impressive series of the season. The only impressions taken out of Monday's loss -- Baltimore's 15th in its last 21 games -- were the same things that have haunted the club in the last three weeks: ineffective starting pitching and an unproductive offense.

"We are struggling," said Reynolds, who has seven homers in his past eight games. "We are not getting hits with runners in scoring position, we are not getting our timely pitching and it's adding up to a lot of losses right now. So, it's very frustrating."

The Orioles have just 12 hits with runners in scoring position over their last 12 games, compiling a .133 batting average in the process. Coupled with a rotation that has completed seven innings just once in the last 20 games --pitching to an 8.75 ERA over the last 10 -- and you have a recipe for disaster on a tough road trip that includes three games in Texas and four in Boston.

"You have to look at it as an opportunity instead of something that is going to be too challenging," Orioles manager Buck Showalter said of playing the defending American League champion Rangers. "We've got to do better."

Jakubauskas, who turned in the worst start of his brief Orioles career, was hit hard early. After a scoreless first, the journeyman right-hander surrendered four runs in the second inning, including a two-run homer to No. 9 batter Endy Chavez. Chavez's one-out blast gave the Rangers a 4-2 lead, after Reynolds had put the O's ahead with a two-run shot in the top of the inning.

Adrian Beltre connected for a two-run shot in the third to put the Rangers -- who entered the game ranked second in the Majors in homers -- up by four. Reliever Alfredo Simon came on after Jakubauskas couldn't even record an out.

"There wasn't much command and wasn't much crispness to his pitches," Showalter said of Jakubauskas, who described his location during his second consecutive loss as "thigh-high and right down Broadway."

"He's not a guy that's going to overmatch you with pure stuff, but when he is right, as we've seen, he can command the fastball and work the weaknesses," Showalter said. "But he just didn't get into a position where he could do that."

Simon didn't fare much better, allowing an aggressive Rangers squad to add six more runs (five earned) over the next 4 1/3 innings. Texas capitalized on Reynolds' Major League-leading 20th error to score a fourth-inning run and Simon -- who allowed nine hits -- had just one inning where he faced the minimum. The Rangers belted seven doubles, a pair of homers and a triple.

Reynolds added another homer in the eighth -- his 20th of the season -- while J.J. Hardy hit a solo shot in the top of the seventh off Rangers starter Colby Lewis. Despite the three homers, the Orioles' offense struggled to get anything going off Lewis.

"He started getting his pitches down, he started hitting his spots much better," Rangers manager Ron Washington said of Lewis, who is 3-0 with a 2.30 ERA over his last four starts. "His breaking ball came into play and he started moving his fastball around."

The Orioles were similarly stumped by the Rangers' relief, with Reynolds' second homer -- off Darren O'Day -- the only blemish for the Texas bullpen. The O's third baseman has 12 RBIs over his last eight games, although his defense continues to be a sore spot.

"That part of my game has been frustrating," Reynolds admitted. "I know it's frustrating a lot of fans, and frustrating Buck, probably. I'm just going to go out every day in early work and [batting practice] and keep taking grounders and try to iron this thing out."

The Orioles hope to do the same. Comments