ARLINGTON, Texas — As the Orioles open up the unofficial second half of the season, they know that the Texas Rangers could be one of the teams they end up battling for a possible playoff spot.
So even though the three games here won't be as magnified as their division games down the stretch, they are still incredibly important.
And on Saturday night, the Orioles circled the bases for seven runs in the first three innings on their way to a 17-hit attack in a 7-4 win in front of an announced 41,660 at Rangers Ballpark.
With the win, the Orioles (55-43) are a season-high 12 games over .500 and clinched their first series win here since July 8-11, 2010. For now, they have a better record than the Rangers (54-45).
The Orioles have won six of their past seven overall and won four straight against Texas. They've also won 26 games on the road, second most in the majors and one fewer than the Rangers.
"It's a given that they're going to be one of the teams that's going to be as good as anybody in baseball," Orioles manager Buck Showalter said. "You look at teams like them, they're so talented and so deep that you just better take care of your own business because it's a given where they are."
The Orioles also picked up a game on the division-leading Red Sox and now trail Boston by just 3 1/2 games.
Saturday's game was delayed 35 minutes because of weather, but the Orioles got started quickly offensively. After three innings, the Orioles had not only plated seven runs, but each starter had reached base and all but one had a hit.
That included Henry Urrutia, who went 1-for-4 in his major league debut with an RBI single in the third inning.
The Orioles were 7-for-12 with runners in scoring position through the first three innings, recording as many hits in that situation as the previous five games combined.
Right-hander Miguel Gonzalez held the Rangers scoreless over his first six innings, recording his eighth straight quality start, the longest streak of any Orioles starter this season. Over the past six games, Orioles starters own a 3.46 ERA and have 23 strikeouts and eight walks.
Gonzalez (8-3) recorded his sixth win in his last seven decisions and has allowed one or fewer runs in each of his last three starts.
"He's been really good," Jones said. "He goes out there and competes. He gives us a chance to win. I [saw] over his last few road starts we hadn't gotten him that much run support. So, I hope he thanks us today, we gave him seven early."
The Orioles chased Rangers starter and former Orioles farmhand Ross Wolf from the game before he was able to record an out in the third inning, plating seven runs on nine hits. Eleven of the 16 batters Wolf faced reached base.
With the Orioles already leading 3-0, Adam Jones led off the third inning with his 20th homer of the season, taking a first-pitch delivery into the center-field berm and giving Jones his third straight 20-homer season.
The Orioles scored four runs in the inning, including Urrutia's first major league hit and RBI on a bases-loaded single past first baseman Mitch Moreland.
The Cuban outfielder -- who batted eighth and served as the designated hitter -- had struck out swinging at a low offspeed pitch in his first at-bat.
"I was really anxious in the first at-bat, but in the second at-bat I just tried to put the ball in play and make good contact," Urrutia said through minor league coach Ramon Sambo. "It was really emotional for me and I'm happy to be here and it's a dream come true."
Brian Roberts followed Urrutia's RBI single with a two-run single, but he was caught trying to take second base after retreating to first. On the next play, Urrutia was thrown out at home tagging up after Nate McLouth's flyout to left.
Five of the first six Orioles hitters of the game reached against Wolf (1-3), who lost to the Orioles for the second time in 10 days.
Back-to-back RBI singles by Jones and Chris Davis put the Orioles up 2-0 in the first, but the Orioles stranded the bases loaded when J.J. Hardy and Urrutia struck out. Manny Machado put the Orioles up 3-0 on a RBI single in the second, scoring Nate McLouth, who tripled. Catcher Matt Wieters reached base four times and recorded his first three-hit game of the season.
Davis, who entered the game just 4-for-38 against his former team (including the playoffs), went 2-for-5. He fouled a ball off his right ankle in his second at-bat but stayed in the game and said afterward that he is fine.
Gonzalez left the game leading 7-1 with a runner on and two outs in the seventh inning. Tommy Hunter got out of the jam, but allowed three runs in the eighth inning, two of them coming on David Murphy's two-out single.
Jim Johnson brought the tying run the plate with two outs in the ninth, but he retired A.J. Pierzynski to end the game for his majors-leading 35th save of the season.
"We [saw] them last year in the wild-card game. Good chance we are going to be seeing these guys again," Jones said. "And every game is important against them."