- The Washington Times - Thursday, August 5, 2004

BALTIMORE — The Baltimore Orioles probably wish they could play every home game against Seattle.

Rafael Palmeiro hit a go-ahead, two-run single in the seventh inning, and four relievers combined for 3-1/3 scoreless innings as Baltimore upended the Mariners 6-3 last night before 27,539 to complete a three-game sweep — the team’s first series victory at Camden Yards since early May.

The Orioles (49-57) took advantage of Seattle’s shaky bullpen for the third time in two days. Right-hander Shigetoshi Hasegawa (4-4) surrendered two walks before third baseman Willie Bloomquist’s one-out error loaded the bases. Mariners manager Bob Melvin then called on sidearming southpaw Mike Myers, who surrendered Palmeiro’s two-run single down the right-field line just to the left of first baseman Bucky Jacobsen.

“I found the hole,” said Palmeiro, who is 5-for-12 lifetime against Myers. “I’m sure he was trying to [get me to hit a grounder]. Sometimes you get lucky.”

Moments later, the Orioles added an insurance run when Myers’ wild pitch allowed Miguel Tejada to score.

The Orioles then turned it over to the bullpen, which already was off to a fine start. Buddy Groom had entered a tie game with the bases loaded in the sixth but induced Bloomquist’s liner back to the mound. Groom and Todd Williams (1-0) then combined to pitch the seventh.

Their successors were just as good. Jason Grimsley tossed a perfect eighth — his third scoreless outing in two days — and closer Jorge Julio pitched the ninth for his 17th save.

The performance was even more impressive because lefty B.J. Ryan, the bullpen’s most consistent member this season, was unavailable after pitching in both games of Tuesday’s doubleheader.

“Anytime everyone can step up and do their job, it makes it easier,” Groom said. “If they can go to us to get key outs in a situation like that in a tie ballgame, it makes a difference.”

Though the Orioles have been miserable at home — they had been 0-8-3 in their last 11 home series since sweeping Cleveland on May 7-9 before Seattle arrived at Camden Yards — the Mariners have been even more abysmal away from Safeco Field. Seattle fell to 14-41 on the road, including a 1-21 mark since June22.

It appeared early on that starter Daniel Cabrera would be able to take advantage of the struggling Mariners (39-68). After waiting out a rain delay of nearly an hour in the second inning, Cabrera didn’t allow a runner past second base as he cruised through the first five innings. The 23-year-old was in complete command, mixing his pitches effectively while also taking advantage of a Mariners lineup littered with young players and utilitymen.

Yet the right-hander found trouble in the sixth. Ichiro Suzuki led off with a triple past diving center fielder Jerry Hairston before Randy Winn smoked a 1-0 offering into the right-field bleachers to pull Seattle within 3-2. Cabrera then gave up another run before Groom bailed him out.

Notes — Outfielder Luis Matos will undergo surgery to correct a stress fracture in his right shin and miss the rest of the season. Matos has not played since running into the Green Monster at Boston’s Fenway Park on July21. The injury ends what had been a frustrating season for Matos, who managed only a .275 on-base percentage to go with a .224 batting average in 330 at-bats after hitting .303 last season. …

Outfielder Larry Bigbie, who was hit on the elbow in the seventh inning Tuesday night, was a late scratch. … The Orioles won the season series from the Mariners 7-2, their best record against Seattle since going 9-3 in 1984.

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