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Orioles Are Playing So Well, It’s Sickening

<i> From Associated Press</i>

It’s as if the Baltimore Orioles can do no wrong.

Rafael Palmeiro, who came to the ballpark still feeling the effects of flu, decided he would merely attempt to bloop a few singles to the opposite field Friday night.

Palmeiro ended up hitting two home runs, including the 19th ever hit onto Eutaw Street behind the right-field scoreboard at Camden Yards, as the Orioles extended their winning streak to five games by defeating the Seattle Mariners, 7-4.

When he came to the park, the last thing Palmeiro, who has hit four onto Eutaw Street, was thinking about was his first multihomer game of the season.

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“Last night I felt pretty bad. I was vomiting all night and didn’t get to sleep until around 6 in the morning,” he said after hitting his 32nd and 33rd homers. “My approach today against Bill Swift, a sinkerballer, was to just hit the ball the other way.”

Palmeiro received offensive help from Rich Becker, who provided further proof that everything the Orioles do these days seemingly turns out just right. One day after Baltimore traded away right fielder Joe Carter to the San Francisco Giants, Becker manned the position and went three for four with a homer and four runs batted in.

The Orioles’ 14th win in 15 games lifted them above .500 (52-51) for the first time since May 14.

The Orioles have won 11 consecutive home games, one short of the team record set in 1969. The Orioles moved within seven games of Boston in the wild-card chase, further narrowing a gap that was 15 1/2 games at the All-Star break.

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Ken Griffey Jr. went one for four with a double and remained stuck on 40 home runs for a second consecutive game. He struck out three times, including twice against Oriole starter Mike Mussina (8-5), who went 7 1/3 innings.

Tampa Bay 6, Oakland 0--Tony Saunders picked up his first win in more than three months and Bubba Trammell drove in three runs for the Devil Rays at St. Petersburg, Fla.

Saunders (2-9) ended a 16-start winless streak dating back to his last win on April 16. It was the longest winless drought in the majors this season.

The left-hander gave up five hits in 6 2/3 innings and survived seven walks. Jim Mecir pitched out of a bases-loaded jam in the seventh inning and completed the combined five-hitter with perfect relief.

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Cleveland 2, Detroit 1--Travis Fryman led off the bottom of the 11th inning with his 21st home run, giving newcomer Steve Reed and the Indians a victory.

Fryman hit a 3-1 pitch from Doug Bochtler (0-1) into the left-field stands for his third hit of the game against his former team.

Reed (1-0) struck out three in two scoreless innings in his AL debut. Reed, acquired late Thursday in a five-player deal with the Giants, was helped in the 10th by a controversial double play turned by Omar Vizquel.

Joe Randa reached on a one-out infield single and was running when Paul Bako hit a high chopper over the mound. Vizquel gloved it on the first-base side of second, lunged to tag Randa and threw to first for the double play.

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Tiger Manager Buddy Bell mildly protested the out call at second by umpire Ken Kaiser, claiming Vizquel missed the tag.

Cleveland starter Dave Burba, winless since July 1, outlasted Tiger left-hander Jason Thompson, winner of three in a row.

Toronto 10, Boston 6--Juan Guzman finally got some offensive support in another strong outing as the Blue Jays hit three homers at Boston.

In his previous six games, Guzman (5-12) had a 2.66 earned-run average but was 1-4. In those four losses, the Blue Jays scored only four runs.

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That changed as Ed Sprague, Jose Canseco and Tony Phillips homered. Phillips, Shannon Stewart, Canseco and Carlos Delgado were a combined 10 for 17 with six runs, nine RBIs and five walks.

Guzman gave up three unearned runs and four hits in 6 1/3 innings.

Minnesota 5, Texas 3--Dan Serafini shut down the most prolific lineup in the majors through six innings and Terry Steinbach delivered a clutch hit for the go-ahead run to lead the Twins at Minneapolis.

Serafini (4-3), who had lost his last three decisions and was without a victory since June 16, gave up two runs, nine hits, struck out four and walked one in six innings.

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The Rangers came into the game leading the majors in runs and hits, but while Serafini was on the mound they managed only Rusty Greer’s RBI single in the fifth and Mike Simms’ solo homer in the sixth. Greer added an RBI double against Trombley in the seventh.

One day after blowing a 5-2 lead, Rick Aguilera got his 23rd save.


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