Matt Wieters

Rangers 1B Michael Young slides safely into home while Orioles catcher Matt Wieters waits for the throw. (US Presswire / July 4, 2011)

It was their most surprising series of the 2010 season, when the Orioles stormed into Texas and swept the Rangers in four games to close out last year's first half.

Buck Showalter, who was living in Dallas at that time and mulling an opportunity to join the Orioles as manager, joked before Monday's game that he hoped his club could repeat history this week.

The Orioles chose the wrong kind of recent franchise history to mirror in Monday's 13-4 loss to the Rangers, however, the kind that has hindered the Orioles for more than a decade: inefficient starting pitching, offensive ineptitude and a dash of bad defense.

It all added up to the fifth loss in six games for the Orioles (36-46), who have dropped a mind-numbing 15 of their past 21.

"It's why [the Rangers] won the American League championship last year," Showalter said. "You have to look at it as an opportunity instead of something that is going to be too challenging. We've got to do better."

Starter Chris Jakubauskas, who might have been pitching for his starting spot, turned in his worst performance as an Oriole. He was tagged for seven hits and six runs in just two-plus innings. He was chased after Adrian Beltre belted a two-run homer in the third inning, the second homer Jakubauskas had yielded by then.

Jakubauskas (2-2, 6.75 ERA) has now given up 11 runs in his past seven innings, and his roster spot is very much in doubt.

"There wasn't much command and wasn't much crispness to his pitches," Showalter said.

"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, but he just didn't get into a position where he could do that. He centered up a lot of balls. And I don't care who it is, you are going to have some problems with those mistakes."

The Orioles are expected to purchase the contract of right-hander Mitch Atkins today so he can start tonight's game, and Jakubauskas is one candidate to be designated for assignment.

The Orioles could option lefty Pedro Viola, who allowed one earned run in 12/3 innings pitched Monday, to the minors. The Orioles also might do something with a position player, such as placing outfielder Luke Scott on the disabled list to give him time to rest his ailing shoulder through the All-Star break.

The corresponding move will not be announced until today.

The Rangers' four-run second inning was punctuated by a two-run homer off the bat of ninth hitter Endy Chavez, who added a two-run double in the four-run third for a four-RBI night. It had been so long since Chavez had four RBIs in one game that he last achieved the feat in 2003 with a team (the Montreal Expos) that no longer exists.

On Monday, Chavez did it in three innings.

It was that kind of night for the Orioles, who now have had just one starter last seven innings in their past 20 games.

Before a spirited Independence Day crowd of 42,885, the Rangers (45-41) pounded out 18 hits, including seven doubles, two homers and a triple. Simon lasted 41/3 innings and was rocked for six runs (five earned) on nine hits.

But Monday's ineptitude wasn't limited to the Orioles' pitching staff.

The offense was 0-for-4 with runners in scoring position and now has just 12 hits with runners in scoring position in the past 12 games -- a batting average of .133. The Orioles managed just five total hits against right-hander Colby Lewis, who didn't appear particularly sharp. In fact, Lewis (8-7) twice walked and once plunked Vladimir Guerrero, who has 11 free passes on the season and had just two previous multi-walk games in 2011.

"With us right now, we are struggling," said Mark Reynolds, who drove in three of the Orioles' four runs. "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."

Guerrero scored once, in the second, on Reynolds' team-high 19th homer of the season. Reynolds then hit his 20th homer, a solo shot in the eighth, against Rangers reliever Darren O'Day. Reynolds has homered in three consecutive games and hit six in five days. It was the his 12th multi-homer game of his career, third of the season and second in three games.

"Yeah, it's been nice. But what's our record in the six games?" Reynolds said. "It's not very good. You know, I was in the playoffs in '07 and there's nothing like it. I want to be part of a team again that gets back there and gets to play for that ring."

It was far from a perfect night for Reynolds. He also struck out twice and made his major league-leading 20th error at third base on a chopper that clanked off his glove as he didn't attack it.

"That part of my game has been frustrating," he said. "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 keep taking grounders and try to iron this thing out."

The error eventually led to an unearned run on a triple by Michael Young, who also had a double and a single in the game. Young flied out in the sixth and then was replaced by a pinch-hitter in the eighth, putting an end to his bid for the cycle.

All four of the Orioles' runs came via the homer. Reynolds drove in three and J.J. Hardy had one, a seventh-inning homer against Lewis.

There were two moments of levity in the Rangers' pummeling -- at least in a blooper kind of way.

On Beltre's third-inning homer, left fielder Nolan Reimold was attempting to track the ball when he inadvertently backed into the left-field wall. He was startled, but fine.

In the sixth, Josh Hamilton lost control of his bat on a swing and it headed toward Beltre near the on-deck circle. The nimble third baseman leaped over the wood as if it were a flying jump rope, and then began to chuckle.

The outcome, though, was no laughing matter for Jakubauskas and the Orioles.

"It's just frustrating," Jakubauskas said. "I don't like pitching like this. I am better than this. Bottom line. I am better than how I've been pitching lately."

dan.connolly@baltsun.com

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