O's slam way by Tigers in 14-7 win


DETROIT - Their bench was down to two healthy players, worn almost as thin as their patience. A tie game moved into the late innings. The Orioles were due for a break last night, one that didn't involve any bones.

They settled for breaking out. In a big way.

Rafael Palmeiro and Melvin Mora hit grand slams, the latter in the ninth after Jay Gibbons put the Orioles ahead with a bloop double two innings earlier, and Miguel Tejada added a bases-empty shot to power a 14-7 victory over the Detroit Tigers at Comerica Park.

The Orioles hadn't hit two slams in one game since former catcher Chris Hoiles did it by himself on Aug. 14, 1998 at Cleveland.

With the score 7-7, Gibbons lifted a fly ball to right field that fell in front of a diving Craig Monroe. C h r i s Gomez raced home from first base, running on contact with two outs.

Orioles designated hitters were batting .218, 13th in the American League, before Gibbons went 2-for-5.

Gomez saved a run in the eighth with a diving stop, which seemed important until the Orioles loaded the bases against reliever Doug Creek in the ninth. Mora hit his second career slam, Tejada followed with his 15th homer, and the Orioles had their most runs this season.

With the win, the Orioles (33-22) moved three games ahead of the Boston Red Sox in the American League East. A victory today would keep their streak alive of not losing a road series this year.

Unable to get through a night without injury, the Orioles lost catcher Geronimo Gil in the sixth inning after he took a foul ball off his left thumb earlier in the game. X-rays were negative and he's listed as day-to-day.

Starter Rodrigo Lopez took a more severe beating, turning in his shortest outing of the season. He allowed seven runs but was spared a loss when Palmeiro hit a grand slam in the fifth to erase a 7-3 deficit.

Palmeiro was batting .136 with one homer against left-handers before connecting off Tigers starter Wilfredo Ledezma. He has 12 career grand slams, his most recent before last night coming July 28, 2003 in Seattle.

Reaching for a pitch low and away, Palmeiro lifted it into the right-field seats, giving him 1,802 career RBIs.

Unable to get comfortable, Lopez was gone after 53 pitches. But the bullpen covered the last six innings without allowing a run, including

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