BALTIMORE (AP) — Corbin Burnes scattered nine hits over seven innings, rookie Heston Kjerstad homered and drove in three runs and the Baltimore Orioles pummeled the struggling Texas Rangers 11-2 on Thursday night.

Cedric Mullins, Adley Rutschman and Colton Cowser also went deep for the Orioles, who built an 8-1 lead in the fourth inning against Jon Gray (3-4) and coasted to their second straight victory following a five-game skid.

Adolis Garcia homered for the defending World Series champion Rangers, who have lost four in a row to fall seven games below .500 (37-44). Texas has dropped seven consecutive road games and eight successive road series openers.

This four-game series that concludes Sunday is a rematch of the 2023 AL Division Series, in which the Rangers pulled off a three-game sweep. Although Orioles manager Brandon Hyde conceded that a regular-season series in June isn’t quite the same as the playoffs, he acknowledged that “those three losses stayed with us for a while.”

The Orioles appear on course to return to the playoffs, having reached the midway point of the season at 51-30. This game showcased their most notable strength: power. Kjerstad hit a two-run drive to deep center in the third to make it 6-1, Mullins connected for the second time in two nights for an 8-1 lead and Rutschman added a solo shot in the seventh against Jonathan Hernández.

Cowser finished the long-ball party with a drive off Brock Burke in the eighth.

Baltimore hit 57 homers this month, a franchise record for June, breaking the mark of 56 by the 2016 club.

Burnes (9-3) lowered his ERA to 2.28 in matching his longest outing of the year. The right-hander gave up one run, walked none and struck out five.

Obtained in an offseason trade with Milwaukee, Burnes wasn’t a part of the Baltimore team that last year won the AL East before falling flat against Texas in the postseason. The 2021 Cy Young winner is clearly the ace of the rotation, especially after the Orioles lost John Means and Kyle Bradish to season-ending arm injuries.

Gray (3-4) yielded eight runs and nine hits in five innings. The ineffective outing came two starts after he allowed nine runs in three innings against the Mets.

TRAINER’S ROOM

Orioles: Dean Kremer (right triceps strain) threw 75 pitches in a rehabilitation assignment for Triple-A Norfolk. Although he yielded four runs and a pair of homers in 4 1/3 innings, Kremer moved closer to returning to the big leagues. “Definitely on the radar,” Hyde said.

UP NEXT

Max Scherzer is scheduled to start for Texas on Friday night. Following offseason back surgery and, subsequently, thumb soreness, the 39-year-old Scherzer (1-0) pitched five shutout innings Sunday against the Royals in his 2024 debut. Although Scherzer’s thumb might still be bothersome, manager Bruce Bochy said the right-hander will go “full bore” without a pitch count. Albert Suárez will start for Baltimore.

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