Star-in-waiting Palmeiro spurs 7-run 5th, 12-6 win


Rafael Palmeiro burns to be an All-Star this year. He's been there before, in 1988, when he was with the Chicago Cubs, and in 1991, after he was traded to the Texas Rangers.

But this year . . . this year is different. The All-Star Game is in Texas, in The Ballpark in Arlington, where Palmeiro would be playing had the Rangers re-signed him after the 1993 season. Where Will Clark is playing now.

Palmeiro continues to build a strong case: Last night, his bases-empty home run leading off the fifth inning began a seven-run rally for the Orioles, their biggest inning of the season. The night after they had no runs and three hits against Randy Johnson, the Orioles beat the Seattle Mariners, 12-6, with 15 hits.

Manny Alexander, who may in the process of assuming the second base job from Bret Barberie, had a stolen base and two hits, including his first major-league homer. Brady Anderson and Jeffrey Hammonds each hit two-run homers, rookie center fielder Curtis Goodwin had two hits and Jamie Moyer (1-1) pitched seven innings for the victory -- the first win by an Orioles left-hander since April 30, when Arthur Rhodes beat Minnesota. Doug Jones yielded the Mariners' final two runs in the ninth.

The odds of Palmeiro becoming an All-Star are reduced because of the glut of qualified first basemen in the American League; just ask Detroit first baseman Cecil Fielder, who has been passed over several times.

Figure that Frank Thomas will likely be in the starting lineup, voted in by fans. Clark could be selected. There's Toronto's John Olerud, Oakland's Mark McGwire, Mo Vaughn of Boston.

But Palmeiro has compelling numbers. The homer was his ninth, the RBI his 30th, the latter figure ranking among the top 10 in the AL. If he continues at this rate, he'll have accumulated 18 homers and 60 RBIs by the time half of the 144-game season is completed. He began last night's game with a .315 average.

Palmeiro led off the fifth inning with the score tied against Seattle left-hander Dave Fleming (1-4). With the count 2-2, Fleming threw a fastball high and away, and Palmeiro hit it high and away, into the left-field stands, and the Orioles led, 3-2.

Then the Orioles piled it on -- the rest of it, though, coming with two outs.

Cal Ripken walked. Chris Hoiles, the only member of the Orioles starting lineup who went hitless, flied to right, and Hammonds was safe at first on a fielder's choice. Two outs, and it looked as if the Orioles would settle for the one run.

But Hammonds stole second, significant in itself because it was the first major-league steal for Hammonds since his reconstructive surgery. Third baseman Jeff Manto, who has a habit of throwing out at least one hit a day, plopped a bloop single into center and Hammonds scored.

The Orioles were just getting started. Alexander pulled a ball off the left-field foul pole, a two-run shot. "Yeah, I watched it all the way cause I knew it was gone," Alexander said.

Goodwin rolled a single to center, Anderson walked, and Mariners manager Lou Piniella had seen enough of Fleming. He called for reliever Bob Wells.

And the hits just kept on coming. Kevin Bass smashed a grounder just inside the first-base bag, the ball bounding into the right-field corner. Goodwin and Anderson sprinted around the bases -- a double-dose of speed, something that the Orioles haven't had much of this year -- and Anderson beat the relay sliding across home.

Palmeiro, batting for the second time in the inning, walked, and Ripken drove a liner that bounced off the left-field foul line and skipped into the seats, a ground-rule double and an RBI.

Hoiles flied to center, the first out after a succession of seven hits and walks, Hoiles' second out in the fifth, and mercifully, the final out of the inning.

The Orioles added a run in the sixth, Alexander walking, stealing second and scoring on a single by Goodwin. Two more runs scored in the seventh when Hammonds homered, Hoiles trotting home in front of him.

Moyer, making just his second start of the year, was relieved after seven innings, five hits allowed, four runs, two walks and two strikeouts.

The Mariners jumped in front with two runs in the fourth inning. Rich Amaral singled up the middle and Darren Bragg walked, and they pulled off a double steal. Seattle designated hitter Edgar Martinez shot a single into right, and both scored.

But with one out in the bottom of the fourth, Alexander pushed a bunt past Fleming.

He moved to second on a grounder, and then Anderson -- who had been a late addition to the Orioles lineup, telling Regan in late afternoon that his back strain had improved -- hammered a two-run homer into the right-field stands.

In this series of offensive punches, Anderson's shot was the stunning jab. The knockout blows came the next inning.


Opponent: Seattle Mariners

Site: Oriole Park at Camden Yards

Time: 7:35

TV/Radio: HTS/WBAL (1090 AM)


Mariners' Chris Bosio (3-0, 2.58) vs. Orioles' Kevin Brown (5-2, 3.15)

Tickets: 10,400 remain

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