Palmeiro delivers

O's sweep

Error leads to 2-run single in 7th, breaking tie, as Mariners fall, 6-3

August 05, 2004|By Roch Kubatko | Roch Kubatko,SUN STAFF

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 would rather have another crack at a team that knows a few things about lying down.

Rafael Palmeiro delivered a two-run, tiebreaking single in the seventh inning after a costly error allowed him to bat, and the Orioles completed 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 permit an earned run in 9 2/3 innings in the three-game series. Jorge Julio collected two saves and a win, and Todd Williams gained his first victory with the Orioles last night.

"Anytime you can go to different guys in the 'pen and everybody can step up and do the job, it makes it easier," said Buddy Groom, who escaped a bases-loaded jam in the sixth to keep the score tied. "That makes the difference in a good 'pen or an average 'pen."

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

"Usually in that situation, you know it's going to be a tough lefty. I've seen it all my career," said Palmeiro, who's 5-for-12 against Myers. "Tonight was my turn, I guess. I found a hole. Sometimes you're lucky."

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. Seattle is 29 games below .500 for the first time since 1992, and 14-41 on the road.

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

"When a team is going through a transition time, you don't want to give them any chance to beat you," Groom said. "You can't let those guys get up."

The Orioles don't know how to function without the occasional rain delay. Last night brought the 11th this season when play was stopped at 7:37 p.m.

The game didn't resume until 57 minutes 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 Garcia's grounder and fired the ball into the 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 don't need another outfielder felled by an injury.

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 he's 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 he's ready, and you want him to play and contribute."

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

Surhoff and Garcia singled and Jerry Hairston walked to load the bases before Brian Roberts' 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. "I don't know. I just look at the lineup," Roberts said.

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 at that point in the series. He finished 9-for-11.

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 he'd 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 Daniel Cabrera walked Miguel Olivo to force in the tying run and bring Groom into the game. Groom kept the Mariners from taking the lead by snaring Bloomquist's liner.

"That was strictly reaction," he said.

Daniel Cabrera, who hasn't won since July 20, threw 67 pitches going into the inning but exhausted another 33 before leaving.

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