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Ponson melts down in sixth, surrenders five runs

SEATTLE (AP) -- Gil Meche's goals are simple these days: Just
throw strikes and try to keep winning.

Meche worked 6 2/3 innings to become Seattle's first 10-game
winner in two seasons and Miguel Olivo hit a solo home run as the
Mariners beat the mistake-prone Baltimore Orioles 8-2 on Sunday.

Seattle blew it open with a five-run sixth inning, highlighted
by Mike Morse's two-run bloop single with two outs and the bases
loaded. Richie Sexson also had an RBI single in that inning and
added a sacrifice fly in the seventh.

The Mariners sent 17 batters to the plate through the first five
innings, then 18 over the next two in earning a split of the
four-game series.

Meche (10-6) won for the fifth time in his last seven starts to
rekindle memories of 2003, when he won a career-high 15 games. He
allowed one run and five hits with one strikeout and four walks.

With a solid second half, Meche could have another career year.

"I'll just try to go out and try to win every start," said
Meche, who improved to 4-0 lifetime against Baltimore. "My big
thing is consistency. I have to let guys hit the ball, not try to
punch every batter out."

Two days after collecting his 3,000th hit, Rafael Palmeiro led
off the second with his 567th career home run, tying Al Simmons for
No. 15 all-time with 1,827 RBI. It was Palmeiro's 52nd homer
against Seattle, more than any other hitter.

It wasn't nearly enough offense for Baltimore, which collapsed
after Sidney Ponson (7-8) looked masterful through the first five
innings.

"He's a great pitcher and he was throwing really good stuff,"
Olivo said. "We just hung in there until the sixth inning. We got
a single and we went on from there."

The Orioles went 0-for-14 with runners in scoring position in
Saturday's 3-2 loss and they were 1-for-11 Sunday, but that hit
didn't produce a run. Manager Lee Mazzilli was asked if the lack of
productivity was contagious.

"You don't want to think that it can be with this team and this
lineup," he said. "We had our opportunities, there's no
question."

Ponson gave up a first-inning single to Randy Winn and walked
Jeremy Reed in the second, retiring 10 of the next 11 hitters until
Seattle roughed him up in the sixth, batting around for a 5-1 lead.

Olivo led off the sixth with a single, stole second and reached
third when catcher Sal Fasano's throw went into center field -- the
first of Baltimore's three errors. Ichiro Suzuki's sacrifice fly
tied it at 1.

"It's all downhill from there," Baltimore's Brian Roberts
said.

Ponson had the bases empty with one out, before the Mariners
scored five runs on four hits. Ponson hit Winn with a pitch on an
0-2 count, and then Sexson and Jose Lopez each had RBI singles in
the rally.

Ponson worked 5 2/3 innings, allowing five runs and six hits
with three strikeouts and three walks -- one intentional. He refused
interviews afterward.

"I don't really remember what happened," Fasano said. "He
wasn't making bad pitches. He just kind of got nubbed a little bit
here and there. Next thing you know, it's five runs later. It's
kind of a blur right now."

Seattle stretched the lead to 7-1 with two unearned runs in the
seventh.

Reliever Todd Williams fell on his face while trying to field a
nubber by Winn. Raul Ibanez then grounded a potential double-play
ball through the legs of All-Star game MVP Miguel Tejada, who was
charged with an error.

"When I saw Tejada make an error, I knew we had to take
advantage," Olivo said. "That doesn't happen very often."

Sexson hit a sacrifice fly and Reed singled in a run.

Mazzilli sent Chris Gomez in to play shortstop in the eighth,
when Olivo led off with a homer into Seattle's bullpen behind left
field.

Game notes
Palmeiro went 1-for-3 with a walk. With 3,004 career hits,
he needs three to tie Al Kaline (3,007) for 24th on the all-time
list. With six more homers, he'll tie Harmon Killebrew (573) for
eighth place. ... Seattle CF Jeremy Reed made a diving catch to rob
Melvin Mora in the fifth. In the sixth, Sexson got B.J. Surhoff on
an unassisted groundout at first, then threw to Morse for a tag on
Palmeiro at second. ... Washington Gov. Christine Gregoire threw
out the ceremonial first pitch.