ARLINGTON, Texas -- With all the ex-Orioles and ex-Rangers playing in extra innings last night, it figured that somebody was going to get a chance to make his former employer look bad.
The winner: Rafael Palmeiro, who hit a 418-foot bases-empty homer in the top of the 13th inning to give the Orioles a 3-2 victory over the Rangers, drawing the Orioles within four games of first-place Boston in the AL East -- the closest they've been since May 10.
If the Orioles (36-37) win tonight, they will have a .500 record for the first time this year.
Six Orioles relievers no-hit the Rangers for the last 7 2/3 innings, with Mark Lee getting his first major-league victory since Sept. 16, 1991, and Doug Jones picking up his 16th save.
Orioles manager Phil Regan used 21 of the 25 players on his roster, everybody but starting pitchers Mike Mussina, Ben McDonald, Jamie Moyer and Scott Erickson. It was the Orioles' longest game since they played 13 innings against Oakland on Sept. 3, 1993.
Bret Barberie opened the 13th by popping out against reliever Dennis Cook (0-1), who had entered the game in the 10th inning. But then Palmeiro launched his homer, his 18th of the year and only the third hit into the second deck that hangs over right field to finally bring the four-hour, 40-minute marathon to an end.
"Put yourself in my situation," Palmeiro said, "hitting a home run in the 13th inning against the team that basically said, 'We don't want you.'
"What do you think I was feeling?"
Kevin Brown, making his first start since going on the disabled list June 22, allowed two runs in 5 1/3 innings against his former team. "You figured it would take something dramatic to get it over with. . . . I'm glad to see somebody decided enough was enough and put an end to it. I'm glad for Raffy."
After Brown, Regan used all six of his relievers -- Arthur Rhodes (2 2/3 innings), Terry Clark (1 2/3 ), Jesse Orosco (1 1/3 ), Mike Oquist (one-third), Lee (one) and finishing -- finally -- with Jones, who got nice defensive plays in the 13th from Cal Ripken and Kevin Bass, whose running catch ended it.
"When Jones came in," Regan said, "we told [bullpen coach] Elrod Hendricks he might as well come in, too, because there was nobody left out there."
The Orioles scored a first-inning run against Rangers starter Bob Tewksbury. Brady Anderson singled to right to start the game, advanced to second on Barberie's single to left, to third on a fielder's choice grounder by Palmeiro, and scored on a grounder by Ripken.
But thereafter, Tewksbury mastered the Orioles, throwing strike after strike after strike, pitching to both edges of the plate. The Orioles accomplished almost nothing in the way of offense for the next six innings.
* Catcher Greg Zaun had a two-out single in the second.
* After Tewksbury retired 14 straight Orioles, designated hitter Harold Baines lined a single to right in the seventh. Jeffrey Hammonds pinch-ran for Baines, and Jeff Manto bounced into a 6-3 double play, Rangers shortstop Benji Gil, a former high school pitcher, sidearming a rocket to first to complete it.
* Pinch hitter Jeff Huson lifted a one-out single to right in the eighth, and Texas manager Johnny Oates -- in his first game against his former team -- called for relief. All told for Tewksbury, five hits, no walks and two strikeouts in 7 1/3 innings.
But the Rangers' bullpen would fail Tewksbury. Ed Vosberg, better known for his unsuccessful attempt to scalp complimentary tickets at the All-Star Game last week, came on and appeared to pick off Huson. But as Huson ran away from first baseman Will Clark, attempting to elude Clark's tag, he pointed back at first base umpire Ted Barrett. See, Huson was telling Clark, he called a balk.
Clark, his eyes bulging, went semi-berserk, screaming at Barrett, and after about 20 seconds, Oates joined him in the argument. But the call stood.
Curtis Goodwin grounded to short, Huson moving to third, and Vosberg got two strikes on Anderson. Then Anderson pulled a grounder down the first-base line, the ball going far into foul territory after it got past the bag. Barrett called it fair, and Clark went fully berserk, and Oates rushed out to argue, to no avail. Anderson's RBI tied the game at 2-all.
Barberie rolled a grounder up the middle, where second baseman Jeff Frye knocked it down, preventing Anderson from scoring on the infield hit. Palmeiro walked to load the bases. Roger McDowell replaced Vosberg, and after running the count to three balls and two strikes, Ripken hammered a low liner -- which Clark short-hopped at first, before ambling over to step on the bag for the third out of the inning.
Brown, activated before last night's game, would not be the pitcher of record in his first start since going on the disabled list on June 22.
That night he reached for a line drive hit by Boston's Troy O'Leary, a smash that dislocated the top knuckle of his right index finger.
Brown said several times that he instinctively reaches for hits up the middle, and he couldn't promise that he wouldn't do it again in the future.
Good thing, too. Otis Nixon, the first hitter to face Brown last night, grounded a ball to Brown's right, and sure enough, he stretched out his bare hand in an attempt to knock the ball down. This time, he missed, and Nixon beat out an infield hit.
Brown picked off Nixon, but, erratic in his control early, the Orioles' right-hander walked Mark McLemore. Clark singled. Rangers designated hitter Juan Gonzalez chopped into a fielder's choice: McLemore moving to third, Gonzalez safe at first, and Clark cutting down Barberie at second with a bit of a leg whip after getting forced out, ensuring there would be no double play.
Brown walked Rusty Greer to load the bases, but he retired catcher Ivan Rodriguez on a grounder to end the shaky and scoreless first inning.
He wasn't so fortunate in the second, Nixon's infield grounder driving home Frye. Then, leading off the sixth, Greer gave the Rangers a 2-1 lead with a bases-empty homer to center field.
But, thanks to Palmeiro, and the bullpen, the Orioles refused to yield. And for Palmeiro, it was the victory that was most satisfying.
"The important thing was that we won the ballgame, not that it was against Texas," he said. "We're trying to get back in the
race and we need to win every game that we can."
Opponent: Texas Rangers
Site: The Ballpark in Arlington
Time: 8:35 p.m.
TV/Radio: Ch. 54/WBAL (1090 AM)
Starters: Orioles' Mike Mussina (9-5, 4.93) vs. Rangers' Roger Pavlik (5-5, 5.74)