Rhodes teases, Rangers respond with 8-3 victory


ARLINGTON, Texas -- One inning into his second start of the season, the beauty and the bane of Arthur Rhodes the pitcher surfaced.

He can be wild, maddeningly wild. He can be overpowering, oh so overpowering, pumping fastballs and promise that leave the Orioles impatiently yearning for the day he tames his control problems and expands his repertoire.

He was both in the first inning of the Orioles' first game at The Ballpark in Arlington, an 8-3 loss to the Texas Rangers last night.

A crowd of 37,760 that came to the new park to see Rhodes and Texas rookie right-hander Rick Helling face each other for the second time in a week included Rhodes' wife, mother and father. A native of nearby Waco, Rhodes also had several friends in the audience.

Arthur the Wild stood on the stage as the curtain raised. Leading off, David Hulse walked. Too slow to the plate, Rhodes left catcher Chris Hoiles with no chance of throwing out Hulse, who slid into second for an easy stolen base.

Rhodes then walked Chris James.

Will Clark at the plate. Juan Gonzalez on deck. Jose Canseco in the hole. Arthur Rhodes in a whole lot of trouble.

Clark flied to left. Gonzalez popped to short. Canseco struck out swinging at a full-count slider out of the strike zone.

The good-Arthur, bad-Arthur pattern set in the first inning, emblematic of his young career with the Orioles, would continue through the night. This time, more of the good than bad was evident.

Rhodes worked two batters into the sixth inning. He allowed three hits, walked five and struck out seven. Such promise. Such a tease.

"I've seen Arthur throw this way before," Orioles manager Johnny Oates said.

Rhodes left a 2-1 deficit and two runners in the hands of a bullpen that turned it into an 8-1 deficit.

Gonzalez led off the sixth with a single to right, his first hit off Rhodes in 16 at-bats.

"A wild swinger against a wild pitcher," Oates said by way of explanation.

Canseco followed with a walk. Oates had seen enough. Rhodes' pitch limit of 100 had expired. Of the 103 pitches Rhodes threw, 43 were balls.

"I thought he threw pretty well," Oates said. "He settled down and gave us five good innings. I told him that's what we need from him. We don't need nine innings from Arthur, just five or six innings.

"By and large, he used all of his pitches, threw them for strikes, and got ahead of some hitters. That was the game plan coming in."

Nine games into the season, the Orioles (5-4) still search for their first win in a game not started by either Mike Mussina or tonight's starter, Ben McDonald.

It might have come last night but for poor relief pitching.

Rhodes left two base runners in the hands of Mark Eichhorn. Not a terribly comforting feeling the way things have gone for Eichhorn (9.00 ERA). Palmer greeted Eichhorn by launching a double into the gap in left-center. Just like that, the deficit was 4-1. Rhodes was charged with all four runs.

This start went more smoothly than his first, in which he allowed six earned runs on five hits (two home runs) and three walks.

"I'm going in the right direction now," Rhodes said. "The first game was pretty rough and I told myself I was not going to let that happen again."

He looked to be headed for a replay of his 1994 debut until righting himself by setting down the Rangers' three heavy hitters in order.

Two more strikeouts in the second, one more in the third. Rhodespicked up his fifth strikeout by getting Gonzalez swinging for the first out of the fourth.

Then Rhodes grooved a 3-2 fastball out over the plate for Canseco, who deposited it in the right-field seats for his second home run in six days off Rhodes. Clark, who led off with a line single to right, scored ahead of Canseco as the Rangers took a 2-1 lead.

Leading off the second with a home run over the 381 sign at the quirky fence corner in right-center, Harold Baines had given the Orioles the lead.

Baines' third homer gave him a run scored in each game on this four-day old trip.

In the eighth, the Orioles turned three hits into two runs and trimmed the deficit to 8-3.

Hoiles reached on a leadoff single, took second on Helling's wild pitch, and scored on Mark McLemore's single to left. Brady Anderson's double off the wall in center scored Hoiles. After Helling walked Mike Devereaux, Texas manager Kevin Kennedy finally went to his bullpen, bringing in left-hander Rick Honeycutt to face Rafael Palmeiro.

Greeted by a mixture of boos and cheers during his introduction to his former home crowd, and irked by a Helling pitch that sailed behind his back in a fourth-inning at-bat, Palmeiro heard mostly boos in his eighth-inning trip to the plate. He popped to center against Honeycutt.

While Rhodes had at least something positive to take out of his night, something on which to build, the bullpen had only a night to forget.

Eichhorn inherited two runners from Rhodes. Both scored. The run Pennington inherited from Eichhorn in the seventh scored on Hulse's double and Clark doubled in another run against Pennington. After Mark Williamson replaced Pennington, Canseco singled in Clark, pushing the Rangers' lead to 8-1.

Pennington faced three batters. All of them reached base. All of them scored.

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