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Chen picks up fourth win in 16 starts

BALTIMORE (AP) -- Rafael Palmeiro doesn't want his charge toward
3,000 hits to get in the way of his primary goal, which is helping
the Baltimore Orioles stay in contention in the AL East.

So he addressed both objectives Saturday with a prolific
offensive display.

Palmeiro homered, drove in six runs and moved within three hits
of 3,000, and Baltimore beat the Boston Red Sox 9-1 with the aid of
a sensational catch by center fielder Luis Matos.

Palmeiro put the Orioles ahead for good with a three-run homer
in the third inning. He also hit a first-inning sacrifice fly, an
RBI single in the seventh and a sacrifice fly in the eighth.

His 2-for-3 performance brought him to the brink of joining Hank
Aaron, Willie Mays and Eddie Murray as the only players in major
league history with 3,000 hits and 500 home runs.

"I'm just trying to get it over with so we can focus on winning
games," Palmeiro said. "This is good. We picked up a game on the
Red Sox, which is what we're trying to do."

Miguel Tejada went 5-for-5 and Bruce Chen (7-5) allowed one run
and five hits in seven-plus innings for the Orioles, who won for
only the fourth time in 16 games to move within three games of the
first-place Red Sox. Chen struck out five and walked three in
earning his second victory in nine starts since May 18.

Palmeiro hopes to end his pursuit of 3,000 hits on Sunday, at
home against the Red Sox.

"It would be nice. I would love it do it, just for the sake of
the fans," he said. "If not, it will be on the road, I guess."

Baltimore closes out the first half Sunday, then plays 10
straight games on the road after the All-Star break.

Boston will send knuckleballer Tim Wakefield to the mound in the
series finale.

"Three bunts," Palmeiro said with a grin.

Johnny Damon went 2-for-5 to extend his career-best hitting
streak to 24 games, and Edgar Renteria drove in the lone run for
the Red Sox.

With the score 1-all in the third inning, Boston's David Ortiz
hit a drive to center with two on and two outs. Matos ran to the
wall, reached over the 7-foot barrier and snared the ball at the
apex of his leap.

He came crashing to the ground, but upon rising flipped the ball
from his mitt to his bare hand. Chen thrust both arms upward in
appreciation, and many in the sellout crowd of 49,331 roared their
approval.

"With the crowd that we had today and the importance of the
game, it was fun," Matos said. "I got goosebumps after I caught
it."

Chen said, "It was a home run, and then it's three outs and
nobody scored. It was unbelievable."

In the bottom half, Palmeiro followed singles by Brian Roberts
and Tejada with a shot off Wade Miller (2-3) that cleared the
25-foot scoreboard in right. It was his second homer in two games,
14th of the season and 565th of his career.

"I know the score ended up being lopsided," Boston manager
Terry Francona said, "but it's amazing, a couple swings of the bat
made the difference. David Ortiz hits one pitch and they bring it
back in, you take three off the board. And the next inning Raffy
hits a three-run homer. It's a six-run swing."

Tejada had two doubles, a triple and two singles. Needing a
homer in the eighth inning to hit for the cycle, he hit an RBI
double to right to match a career high in hits.

After Palmeiro gave Baltimore a 1-0 lead, Boston tied it in the
third when Trot Nixon hit a leadoff double, advanced on an infield
hit by Damon and scored on a two-out single by Renteria. Matos
ended the uprising by robbing Ortiz of his 22nd home run.

"That's a heck of a catch. There's nothing else you can do
about it," Ortiz said. "He told me the other day, make sure that
when you hit a ball over my head, that you hit it out."

Boston didn't get another hit until the eighth.

Miller gave up four runs and seven hits in six innings. The
right-hander is 0-2 in seven starts since May 30, when he beat the
Orioles at Fenway Park.

Palmeiro hit an RBI single and B.J. Surhoff doubled in a run off
John Halama in the seventh. In the eighth, Larry Bigbie tripled and
scored on Eli Whiteside's first major league hit, a bloop single,
before Tejada completed his perfect afternoon at the plate and
Palmeiro added a sacrifice fly.

Game notes
Chen's seven wins ties a career high, set in 2001 with
Philadelphia and the New York Mets. ... Thousands of Red Sox fans
were among the fourth-largest crowd in the 14-year history of
Camden Yards. ... Boston's Mark Bellhorn went 0-for-3 against Chen
and is 0-for-11 lifetime against the left-hander.