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Gonzalez Catapults Rangers

Juan Gonzalez doesn't like being compared to that splendid slugger from the other league, Mark McGwire.

Perhaps he might feel better about being mentioned in the same sentence as Hall of Famers Reggie Jackson and Mike Schmidt, two names brought up after Gonzalez had his second straight two-homer game Sunday in the Texas Rangers' 9-5 victory over the Baltimore Orioles.

Gonzalez hit his seventh career grand slam and added a solo shot to give the Rangers a split of the four-game series. His second slam this season moved him past Dean Palmer into sole possession of first place on Texas' career list.

The five RBI gave Gonzalez nine in two games and an AL-best 71 in just 54 games. His 17 homers still trails McGwire, but Gonzalez doesn't care at all about that.

"I don't like comparisons. McGwire is playing in the National League. Playing in the American League is different," he said.

Gonzalez's grand slam came in the third inning off Scott Erickson (5-6) and gave the Rangers a 5-1 lead. Unlike his two long shots Saturday, this one barely cleared the left-field wall and was measured at 354 feet.

"His swing reminds me a lot of Reggie Jackson's ball and Mike Schmidt's ball," Texas manager Johnny Oates said. "You stand in the outfield and you watch guys catch the ball over their head. They all hit underneath the ball, they all hit them high in the air and they all have extra carry on their ball."

In the ninth, Gonzalez connected on an 0-2 pitch from Armando Benitez, his 10th home run in May. It was his 30th career multi-homer game.

"When you're hitting great you see the ball good. You like to hit 10 or 15 times in a game because you feel great," he said.

The last time Benitez gave up a homer, he plunked Tino Martinez in the back to start a brawl May 19 against the New York Yankees. This time, Benitez kept his cool, and Ivan Rodriguez followed with a single.

Rodriguez didn't compare Gonzalez to anyone, but he had a few suitable adjectives to describe his muscular teammate.

"He's an unbelievable hitter. He's incredible," Rodriguez said.

Kevin Elster also homered for the Rangers, who scored 19 runs in the final two games of the series. Darren Oliver (3-5) allowed three runs and seven hits in five innings, and Tim Patterson got four outs for his first save.

Mark McLemore had two hits, two walks and scored three runs. He was one of seven Rangers who had multi-hit games.

The Orioles stranded 14 and went 5-for-20 with runners in scoring position. Rafael Plmeiro was 0-for-5 and left nine runners on base.

"The big story is leaving people on base," manager Ray Miller said. ``We just left too many on."

The Rangers got a run in the first when McLemore singled and scored on a double by Rusty Greer. Baltimore tied it in the second on a run-scoring groundout by Jeffrey Hammonds, but the Orioles left the bases loaded for a second straight inning.

"We got 13 guys up in the first two innings and got one run," Miller lamented.

After Gonzalez went deep in the third, Baltimore closed to 5-3 in the fourth on doubles by Mike Bordick, Jeff Reboulet and Eric Davis.

Greer hit an RBI single and Ivan Rodriguez drove in a run with a groundout to make it 7-3 in the seventh.

Erickson was charged with seven runs in seven innings. He walked three and struck out eight. Of his 110 pitches, the one he regretted the most was the slider that Gonzalez hit out of the park.

"That was a bad pitch all the way around," he said. "I knew how to pitch to the guy, and there's no reason to try and get tricky and sneak something in there."

Notes

  • Gonzalez's 35 RBI in May ties a team-record set in 1987 by Lance Parrish.
  • Texas played the final three games of the series without Will Clark, who left the team for what manager Johnny Oates termed "personal reasons."
  • Baltimore has gone seven straight games without an error.
  • It was the first time in seven starts that Oliver did not give up a home run. He has a 9.50 ERA in his last four starts.

    ©1998 The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed

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