Palmeiro delivers in Os win

Imagine how tempting it must have been for the Orioles to throw themselves in front of the Seattle Mariners' bus last night, blocking it from leaving Camden Yards for a little while longer.

Usually quick to embrace any open date on the schedule, they'd rather have another crack at a team that knows a few things about lying down.


Rafael Palmeiro delivered a two-run single in the seventh inning after a costly error allowed him to bat, and the Orioles complete their sweep of the Seattle Mariners with a 6-3 victory before 27,539.

The bullpen covered the last 3 1/3 innings, limiting the Mariners to two hits, and didn't allow an earned run in 9 2/3 in the series. Jorge Julio collected two saves and a win.


Looking to turn a double play to end the seventh, third baseman Willie Bloomquist mishandled Miguel Tejada's bouncer for an error that loaded the bases. Palmeiro greeted reliever Mike Myers with a sharp grounder down the line, and Tejada scored on a wild pitch.

Bloomquist wanted to step on third for the force and throw to first, but did neither. He succeeded later in the inning, after three runs had scored.

The Mariners were a welcome visitor for the Orioles (49-57), who stayed 1 1/2 games behind the Tampa Bay Devil Rays for third place in the American League East after the Devil Rays rallied to defeat the Boston Red Sox. Seattle is 29 games below .500 for the first time since August 1988, and 14-41 on the road.

After being swept only once in 2003, the Mariners have seen it happen nine times this season.

The Orioles don't know how to function without the occasional rain delay. Last night brought the 11th this season when the play was stopped at 7:37 p.m. One minute later, just before the tarp was spread across the infield, a downpour struck that had fans racing for the exits.

The game didn't resume until almost an hour later, with Karim Garcia batting in the second inning. Javy Lopez stood at second base after a single and passed ball.

Lopez trotted home with the first run when Mariners shortstop Jose Lopez made a diving stop of Garcias grounder and fired the ball into the first row of seats behind the Orioles dugout.

Garcia was limping as he crossed first base but stayed in the game after assistant trainer Brian Ebel checked on him. The Orioles dont need another outfield felled by an injury. At least not yet.


They found out yesterday that Luis Matos will undergo surgery to repair the stress fracture in his right shin, costing him the rest of the season and the Orioles their Opening Day starting center fielder. Jay Gibbons played another rehab game with Single-A Frederick last night before reporting tomorrow to Double-A Bowie.

Without another health crisis, the outfield becomes crowded when Gibbons is activated. Garcia, Larry Bigbie, B.J. Surhoff and David Newhan also hit from the left side, necessitating a roster move to alleviate the crush.

Once Gibbons has played a few games with Bowie, "we'll see how he feels and how hes swinging. There's no set date for him to return," said Jim Beattie, executive vice president of baseball operations.

"Obviously, he's a big part of our offense and we want to get him out there. We certainly have some ideas. When you've got a guy like that, you want to make sure hes ready, and you want him to play and contribute."

The Orioles managed enough offense to score twice in the fourth and give Cabrera a 3-0 lead that he carried into the sixth.

Surhoff and Garcia singled and Jerry Hairston walked to load the bases, and Brian Roberts punched a two-run single into left field. The ball bounced twice before sneaking past Lopez, who tried to backhand it.


Before Bigbie was scratched with a sore elbow, Roberts wasn't supposed to start against Mariners right-hander Gil Meche. He was counted among the four reserves until the switch, which occurred as the Orioles were preparing to take batting practice.

"I don't know. I just look at the lineup," Roberts said.

Cabrera had lost his past two starts, though he held the New York Yankees to two runs in 6 1/3 innings Friday night. He hasn't won since July 20 in Kansas City.

The Mariners were shut out for five innings before Randy Winn crushed a two-run homer to right in the sixth. Ichiro Suzuki led off with a triple, his eighth hit in nine at-bats in the series.

Pitching coach Ray Miller visited the mound after Edgar Martinez walked, but Bucky Jacobsen followed with a broken-bat single. As Eddy Rodriguez began to throw in the bullpen, Raul Ibanez lined a pitch into left-center field - a sure double that might have scored two runs. But Hairston made a diving catch inches from the ground, and Cabrera looked like hed escape further harm after striking out Jolbert Cabrera.

He wasn't that lucky. Or that accurate.


Lopez reached on an infield single with two outs, and Cabrera walked Miguel Olivo to force in the tying run and bring left-hander Buddy Groom into the game. Groom kept the Mariners from taking the lead by snaring Bloomquists liner.

Cabrera threw 67 pitches going into the inning, but he exhausted another 33 before exiting.