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BALTIMORE, July 30 -- Rafael Palmeiro keeps reminding the Texas Rangers
just how foolish they were not to offer him a contract when they had the
Palmeiro continued to batter his old team Monday night, breaking open a
tight game with a three-run homer that powered the Baltimore Orioles to
a 7-2 victory.
The Rangers decided after the 1993 season to sign first baseman Will
Clark to a long-term contract instead of re-signing Palmeiro. Clark has
performed well for Texas, but Palmeiro has been outstanding for
Baltimore since agreeing to a five-year contract in December 1993.
Palmeiro has been particularly productive against the Rangers, going
42-for-125 (.336) with 13 homers and 36 RBIs. This year, he's hitting
.364 with six homers and 16 RBIs against his former team.
``He likes to hit against Texas,'' Baltimore manager Davey Johnson said.
``I guess it's a little payback.''
The Orioles pulled out of a 2-2 tie with a four-run sixth. Roberto
Alomar singled and Bobby Witt walked Jeffrey Hammonds before Palmeiro
hit an 0-1 pitch over the 25-foot wall in right, his 23rd home run of
the season and fourth in his last four games against the Rangers.
``I don't know what we're going to do, but we're going to try something
different to stop him,'' Texas manager Johnny Oates said. ``Hopefully we
can find a way before we start the game tomorrow.''
Better pitching might help.
``Just look at the pitches he's hit. That pitch was right down the
middle, a hanging slider,'' Witt said.
Geronimo Berroa capped the big inning with a sacrifice fly.
Mike Mussina allowed two runs in seven innings and Alomar went 4-for-5
with a two-run homer as the Orioles won their sixth game in the last
seven to remain 5½ games ahead of the second-place New York Yankees in
the AL East.
The Orioles are 8-1 against the Rangers this season, outscoring them
59-31 after winning only three of 13 against Texas a year ago.
Rusty Greer homered for the Rangers, who had won three straight.
Mussina (11-4) struck out six and retired 14 of 15 batters after a shaky
start. He allowed six hits and one walk to earn his first win in five
starts since June 30.
``I know it had been a while since I won, but it's not as if I pitched
terribly,'' he said. ``Remember, we were in a bad slump during that
The Orioles lost 10 of 13 before their current run, but the skid now
appears to be just a thing of the past.
``Most of us know you're going to hit a stretch where you struggle. You
just hope it isn't too severe,'' Mussina said. ``We started out poorly
this month, but now we're over .500 in July (13-11).''
Jesse Orosco retired two hitters and Armando Benitez got the final four
outs with strikeouts for his eighth save.
Witt (10-6) gave up five runs and eight hits in five-plus innings. He's 0-2 in four starts since the All-Star break.
Make that two.
Ray Donaldson, at 39 the oldest of the aging wall in front of Troy
Aikman and Emmitt Smith, was released during the offseason, leaving the
battle for center between former Houston Oilers' starter John Flannery
and Clay Shiver, a third-round draft pick last year out of Florida
The battle -- one of the hottest in the Dallas training camp -- is so
close coach Barry Switzer said Monday he wouldn't comment on it until
the team returns to Dallas next month, adding only, ``They are both
Said Aikman: ``Between the two of them, I don't think we can go wrong.''
At 6-foot-3 and 304 pounds, the 28-year-old Flannery is taller and
bigger than the 6-2, 287-pound Shiver and has an edge in experience. But
Flannery also has a history of injuries.
He battled injuries in three of his four seasons with the Oilers,
including a torn left anterior cruciate ligament in training camp in
After starting all of the 1994 season with the Oilers at left guard, he
was released and failed a 1995 physical with the Green Bay Packers, who
said his left knee was torn up again.
He underwent reconstructive surgery on his left knee for a second time
and was signed by the Cowboys four weeks into last season.
``At this point and time, I'm just ecstatic to be on the field,'' said
Flannery, who is splitting practice time equally with Shiver on the
``I had seen a lot of doctors prior to my second reconstruction, and
some of them said get it fixed and retire. But I didn't want doctors
making the decision for me,'' he said. ``I wanted to get it fixed, rehab
it and see how it responds. So far it's responding well.''
If Flannery starts the season, it will only be a matter of time before
Shiver takes over. Cowboys coaches are hoping Shiver, whom Florida
State's Bobby Bowden called the best center he'd ever coached, will
evolve in the image of former Dallas All-Pro Mark Stepnoski.
``Clay is gaining a lot of confidence,'' offensive line coach Hudson
Houck said. ``He worked hard in the offseason to get stronger and he now
can use his quickness because he knows what to do.
``Everyone says we hope he's going to be a Stepnoski. He's got the body
type and the quickness and the determination to do it,'' Houck said.
Offensive guard Nate Newton, who is 35 and second in age on the line to
37-year-old tackle Mark Tuinei, says he doesn't expect any drop off, no
matter who wins the position.
``It'll be a fresh face in the huddle, but John's got experience and
Clay's got quickness,'' Newton said. ``I think we'll be all right.''
Both are likely to make the team because Flannery has experience at
guard as well.
``Whoever ends up being the backup guy will be able to go in if
something happens and play well,'' said offensive coordinator Ernie
Shiver, who worked with the first unit in training camp last year while
Donaldson was rehabbing an injured ankle, said he's in the best shape of
``Last year, I came in and Ray was rehabbing his injury, so I was
running with the first team and I had quite a bit of pressure as soon as
I came in,'' Shiver said. ``It was really a situation where I was almost
``This year, I have a lot more confidence in my abilities and in my
knowledge of the game. It's made a world of difference to be able to turn it loose and play like I know I can.''
The two pitchers combined on a six-hitter Monday night as the St. Louis
Cardinals held on for a 2-1 victory that stopped the Astros' winning
streak at nine.
The Astros, comfortably in front in the NL Central, have won a team
record 10 straight victories five times, most recently May 26-June 4,
``I'm not disappointed that the streak ended because we all knew we'd
lose sometime and we'll lose some more before it's over,'' Astros
manager Larry Dierker said. ``I'll be disappointed if this starts us
going the other way.''
Stottlemyre drove in the eventual winning run with an eighth-inning
double that raised his batting average to .279.
``You just swing the bat and sometimes something good happens,'' he
said. ``When I'm able to help the club in that fashion, it's very
Jeff Bagwell hit his 28th homer leading off the ninth against
Eckersley, and Sean Berry reached on a two-out error. Pinch-runner James
Mouton then stole second, but Brad Ausmus grounded out to shortstop to
end the game.
It was the 26th save of the season for Eckersley, who made the 1,000th
appearance of his career.
``It was very significant,'' Eckersley said. ``I thought about it
before the season began. More than anything it's because I've been
healthy. To pitch in 1,000 games was one thing as a reliever. But I
started 400 games, that's why I feel like I feel I've been so lucky.''
Stottlemyre struck out seven and walked one. The only major threat
against him came with two outs in the fourth when Luis Gonzalez singled
and Derek Bell walked. But Berry, who had homered in the two previous
games, flied out to the left field warning track.
Stottlemyre lost his most recent game to the Astros.
``I've probably been driving my family nuts, knowing I was going to
have to come here,'' Stottlemyre said. ``It's a situation where I got my
butt kicked five days ago and I knew I had my hands full tonight.
They've been tough on me and they've been the hottest team in
St. Louis got on the scoreboard in the fourth when Delino DeShields
reached on shortstop Tim Bogar's fielding error to start the inning. He
went to second on Dmitri Young's groundout and scored on a single to
left by Ray Lankford.
Royce Clayton and Stottlemyre had doubles in the eighth inning.
Stottlemyre, who has driven in four runs this season, has 12 hits in 43
The Astros put runners on first and second with one out in the eighth,
but Thomas Howard hit a sharp liner to shortstop Royce Clayton, who
stepped on second for a double play.
Chris Holt (7-7) pitched well for the Astros but got the loss, allowing
six hits, one earned run and striking out three in eight innings.
Mac McKinnon, Publisher
Division of Buckner News Alliance, Inc.
324 S. Cedar St., Pecos, TX 79772
Phone 915-445-5475, FAX 915-445-4321
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