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Hendrickson touched early, often

Hendrickson touched early, often

BALTIMORE -- Orioles starter Mark Hendrickson had trouble getting some of his pitches in the right spot. The Rangers might be the best power-hitting team in the Major Leagues. That combination made for a rough outing for the big left-hander.

Hendrickson gave up homers to the leadoff hitters in the first three innings to help the Rangers take a big early lead, and though the Orioles rallied, the home team took a 6-5 loss before 41,160 Saturday at Camden Yards.

The problems came right from the start for Hendrickson as Ian Kinsler opened the game by blasting a 2-2 fastball over the center-field fence for a 1-0 lead. Chris Davis homered to right to start the second. Kinsler added a two-run homer later in the inning, and the Rangers were up 4-0 after just 10 batters.

The problems continued in the third when Andruw Jones started the inning with a homer to center for a 5-0 lead. Hendrickson also gave up leadoff singles in the fourth and fifth, ending his night with six runs on eight hits in 4 1/3 innings.

"[My] fastball came back over the middle of the plate probably on three of the home runs," Hendrickson said. "Same thing [with] the curveball; [it] didn't break the way I wanted it to. You try and go out and get the first guy. It put us in a hole."

The Astros were the last team to lead off a game with homers in the first three innings, and that happened on Oct. 2, 2004, against Shawn Estes. But it's not surprising, as the Rangers are known for the long ball.

The Rangers came into the game as the top home run team in baseball. The four they got off Hendrickson helped them to the early lead that the Orioles couldn't rally from -- despite getting three runs in the ninth.

"We got some guys who can hit the ball out of the ballpark, and tonight we did," said Rangers manager Ron Washington. "I'm glad we did, because we needed them all."

But Baltimore long man Brian Bass shut Texas down with 3 2/3 innings of two-hit relief after taking over for Hendrickson in the fifth. Bass wanted to keep the Orioles close, because he knows how well they can hit.

"Any time you can keep this lineup in the game, you have a chance to win at the end," Bass said.

Bass threw 35 strikes on 47 pitches and hasn't allowed an earned run in his last 7 2/3 innings. That's a drastic change from his first 7 1/3, when Bass gave up 14 earned runs.

Orioles manager Dave Trembley has noticed the difference, and likes what Bass is doing.

"He's got better movement on his pitches," Trembley said. "He's attacking the strike zone more consistently. His tempo is very good, and I think everybody goes through a rough spell and he went through his. He put zeroes on the board and gave us a chance to get back in."

Ty Wigginton helped the Orioles start to rally. He got an RBI single in the fourth off starter Scott Feldman to make it 5-1. The Rangers added a run in the fifth before Wigginton hit a solo homer off Derek Holland in the sixth, his first as an Oriole.

But the Orioles made it very interesting in the ninth. Leadoff batter Gregg Zaun reached on shortstop Elvis Andrus' throwing error. Lou Montanez moved Zaun to third with a single, and Cesar Izturis drove him in with an RBI double off C.J. Wilson.

Wilson got Brian Roberts on a popup, and closer Frank Francisco came on. But Adam Jones greeted him with a two-run single to make it 6-5. That was all the Orioles could do as Francisco struck out Nick Markakis -- who had extended his hitting streak to 12 games earlier in the game -- and Aubrey Huff ended the game by flying out to left.

"We had the right guys there, and just didn't get it done," Trembley said.

Jeff Seidel is a contributor to MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

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