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07/11/10 12:26 AM ET

New battery of Wilson, Molina hope to top O's

Sometimes, you have to learn the hard way. That's the lesson for veteran catcher Bengie Molina, who is still trying to gauge the Texas pitching staff after arriving via a recent trade. Molina, who called for a changeup that got walloped for a game-tying home run in Friday's game, is hoping to learn more about his staff in Sunday's first-half finale against the Orioles.

And in a sense, you had to understand his predicament. Molina is a veteran known for his game-calling ability, but he's also learning who likes to throw what kind of pitch in which situation. Molina got burned on Friday night -- when Corey Patterson took Neftali Feliz deep for a ninth-inning grand slam -- but came away from the situation with a philosophical bent.

"What do I say? I just met the guy a few days ago," said Molina. "All [of a] sudden I want to make him do this? At the same time, I tried to make him throw it down and chase it. Maybe if he throws it down at home plate he'll chase it."

Molina is going through the same process with the starting pitchers, and he'll try to usher C.J. Wilson through Sunday's game against Baltimore starter Jake Arrieta. Wilson, who has won four of his past five decisions, will be throwing to Molina for the first time and trying to get Texas into the All-Star break with an enhanced sense of momentum.

The Rangers will head into the All-Star break in first place for the first time in several seasons, and they'll also go into the intermission within shouting distance of the team's best-ever record at this point of the season. Texas rode a 21-6 record in June -- setting a team standard for the best record and most wins in a month -- and seems to have control of the West division.

The Orioles, meanwhile, are still trying to find their footing after one of the worst starts in franchise history. Baltimore went 0-13-1 in its first 14 road series, finally beating Texas the past three days to take its first road series win. The Orioles can also get their first road sweep on Sunday, and they'll need Arrieta to step up and continue to pitch deep into the game.

Orioles: Arrieta extending his outings
Arrieta has completed six innings in two straight starts, and he's made it to that point four times in his first six career starts. The Orioles got a long start from fellow rookie Chris Tillman on Saturday, but their bullpen might still be feeling some strain. Baltimore's relievers threw seven innings without an earned run on Friday and were also instrumental in Thursday's comeback win.

"The bullpen is stabilizing things for us," said Juan Samuel, the team's interim manager and former third-base coach. "We're keeping these games close, and they're giving us a chance to score some runs."

Rangers: Molina learning about his new staff
Molina, acquired from San Francisco on July 1, has played in just six games for the Rangers. But Texas acquired him for his defensive work, best evidenced by his two Gold Glove awards and his work with a young staff in San Francisco. Molina will get plenty of time to learn his new staff in Texas before the playoffs, where one pitch can make a huge difference.

"I'm not worried about the pitch selection. It's location," said manager Ron Washington. "[Feliz] threw a changeup and it just ended up being in the same spot Patterson swung at all those fastballs. I think if that change up would have been down, it might have been a different story. ...I'm not saying Patterson wouldn't have hit it, but it might have stayed in the ballpark."

Worth noting
Baltimore reliever Will Ohman has set a franchise record by pitching in 44 games without earning his first decision. Former pitcher and executive Mike Flanagan -- currently a local Baltimore broadcaster -- had set the previous record by going 42 appearances without a decision in 1992. ... Josh Hamilton went hitless on Saturday, snapping a 29-game home hitting streak. That achievement fell one game shy of the franchise record set by Al Oliver, who hit in 30 straight home games in 1981. ...Texas held a fireworks display on Saturday, one night after Friday's game went too late to stick with the scheduled celebration.

This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.