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TEX@BAL: Choo hits an opposite-field solo home run

BALTIMORE -- Scott Baker has yet to earn a victory since joining the Rangers' pitching staff in May. Of course, wins have been hard to come by for all Rangers pitchers, especially lately.

Baker still deserves some kind of citation for valor simply for hanging around and being willing to take the ball on a moment's notice when others are unable to pitch, or for soaking up relief innings to keep the bullpen from being ripped apart.

Baker was thrown into the breach again on Thursday when the Rangers became overly concerned about potentially bad weather reports and decided to scratch scheduled starter Yu Darvish.

Bad weather never did cause the disruption the Rangers feared and Baker once again ended up as the fall guy in a 5-2 loss to the Orioles at Camden Yards. The victory gave the Orioles a sweep of the four-game series and the Rangers have now lost 14 of their last 17 games.

"We are very frustrated," outfielder Alex Rios said. "It is tough to deal with a situation like this. The only thing we can do is keep playing. There is nothing else we can do really, just enjoy our time on the field and make the best of it."

The start of the game was delayed by 56 minutes because of rain going through the Baltimore area. But the Rangers had concerns that more rain was coming, there might be a lengthy delay during the middle of the game and it all could mean wasting a start by Darvish. The Rangers didn't want Darvish to pitch two to three innings, then have to come out of the game after a one- to two-hour delay and not pitch again until next week.

But those fears went unfounded as the rain stayed away once the first pitch was thrown.

"I thought it was the right decision," Rangers manager Ron Washington said of scratching Darvish. "We didn't know what was going to happen. We didn't want to waste Darvish. The radar said a storm was coming up from D.C. It could have hit us, it could have missed us. It ended up missing us.

"Baker did a good job. We just couldn't hold them out of the bullpen."

Baker, who had pitched an inning in relief on Monday, went 4 2/3 innings in the shortest of his three starts for the Rangers. He also has four relief outings of at least five innings that were longer than this one. He allowed three runs on seven hits, a walk and two strikeouts while throwing 77 pitches.

Baker, who has started as part of a rotation most of his career, is getting used to his dual role as spot starter/long reliever.

"It's obviously a new role for me," Baker said. "A road I've never been down. I'm fully embracing the role, but I've come to appreciate how difficult this role is. I respect guys who do this role and do it well. You've got to be ready at all times."

Orioles starter Wei-Yin Chen earned the victory by holding the Rangers to two runs in six innings. The Rangers went 0-for-8 with runners in scoring position and are hitting .198 in those situations over the past 17 games.

The Orioles picked up one run in the third when Nick Hundley led off with a double and scored on a one-out single by Steve Pearce. The Rangers came back in the fourth to tie it after Adrian Beltre led off with a single to extend his hitting streak to seven games. He went to third on a one-out double by Chris Gimenez and scored on Carlos Pena's grounder to second.

The Rangers then went ahead on a fifth-inning home run from Shin-Soo Choo. It was his second career home run in just four at-bats for Choo against Chen. But the Orioles struck back with two runs on doubles by Ryan Flaherty, Hundley and Pearce in the bottom of the inning.

"I guess if I were going to make an excuse, I ran out of gas at the end," Baker said. "It was pretty muggy. It was hard to catch your breath, especially with guys on base. I would have liked to have made better pitches, especially in that fifth inning. I would have liked to have had a better showing. It is what it is."

The Orioles added two more against relievers Ben Rowen and Neal Cotts in the seventh. Adam Jones had a sacrifice fly and Chris Davis a run-scoring single for a 5-2 lead.

"Their bats came alive over there," Washington said. "We didn't score enough runs. They played better than us. Keep working, that's all you can do. Keep working and believe. It is not like we got blown out of the stadium. There were times we were in the game if we could have shut them down and couldn't do it."

Darvish is now scheduled to pitch on Friday against the Mets at Citi Field, although there is still uncertainty about the East Coast weather because of the presence of Tropical Storm Arthur, which is approaching the North Carolina coast. Colby Lewis will start Saturday and Nick Tepesch will go Sunday, that is he isn't needed in long relief out of the bullpen Friday.

As of right now, Darvish will get just two more starts before the All-Star break. If he pitches on Friday, his final start would be on Wednesday against the Astros. That will allow him to pitch in the All-Star Game the following Tuesday in Minnesota with plenty of rest.

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