Orioles 6, Mariners 3
-- Can Rafael Palmeiro still hurt you at the plate? Seattle Mariners Manager Bob Melvin must think so, or else he would not have brought in his top lefty, Mike Myers, to face Palmeiro, the Baltimore Orioles' prolific first baseman, with the bases loaded and one out in the seventh inning of a tie game Wednesday night.
Has Rafael Palmeiro lost his pop? No one in attendance at Oriole Park at Camden Yards on Wednesday night would say yes, after seeing Palmeiro turn on a Myers fastball and smash it past Mariners first baseman Bucky Jacobsen, bringing home a pair of runs and giving the Orioles a 6-3 win in front of 27,539 fans.
Is Rafael Palmeiro washed up? Dumb question. Since being asked a version of same by a reporter Sunday morning, Palmeiro has done the following: Gone 7 for 14 with a double and a homer in four games, driven in six runs and made good on a promise that morning that he would soon pull out of his slump.
"I've seen it all my career," Palmeiro said of Melvin's call to the bullpen to summon the lefty. "Tonight was my turn, I guess. It found a hole."
The win capped a three-game sweep, the Orioles' first in more than four years over the Mariners, who are at their lowest point -- 29 games below .500 -- in 16 years.
At the height of their glory years, the Mariners (39-68) boasted the best infield defense in the league, but those days are gone, and on Wednesday night, shortstop Jose Lopez and third baseman Willie Bloomquist both made critical errors that led to unearned runs.
Orioles second baseman Brian Roberts gave the Orioles (49-57) a 3-0 lead with a nifty bit of hitting in the bottom of the fourth. With the bases loaded and two outs, Roberts guided a slow curveball from Gil Meche between third base and shortstop, bringing home two runs.
"We got some good, timely hitting when we needed it," Orioles Manager Lee Mazzilli said.
Roberts was not even in Mazzilli's original starting lineup, benched after going 2 for his last 19. However, he was inserted into his customary leadoff spot after left fielder Larry Bigbie was scratched with a sore elbow, the result of his being hit by a pitch there Tuesday night.
Orioles rookie starter Daniel Cabrera continued to show signs of wearing down in what has been the longest season of his professional career. Despite an electric fastball that hit 96 mph on the radar gun, he lasted only 52/3 innings -- sandwiched around a 57-minute rain delay that struck during the second inning -- and threw first-pitch strikes to only seven of the 26 batters he faced.
The Orioles allowed Cabrera to stagger through a 33-pitch sixth inning, in which he allowed two walks and four hits, including Ichiro Suzuki's leadoff triple and Randy Winn's two-run homer. With the bases loaded and the Orioles' bullpen finally almost ready, Cabrera walked Miguel Olivo on five pitches, forcing home the tying run.
Mercifully, Cabrera was finally pulled, and thus began a stretch of 31/3 scoreless innings by the Orioles' bullpen, capped by closer Jorge Julio, who pitched the ninth to earn his 17th save. Third baseman Melvin Mora went to his right to spear Randy Winn's liner for the final out.
Orioles Note: Mora was involved in another verbal confrontation with Mariners pitcher Ron Villone during batting practice, one day after they exchanged words during Villone's start in the first game of a day-night doubleheader.
On Wednesday, as the Orioles took batting practice and the Mariners stretched near the batting cage, Mora and Villone had to be separated by players and coaches. Neither player has commented about the origins of the dispute. The teams do not play each other again this season.