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Palmeiro passes Gehrig with his 494th homer

4/12/2003

SEATTLE (AP) -- Rafael Palmeiro's magic number is six.

Palmeiro hit his 494th homer, passing Lou Gehrig for 19th place
on the career list, and the Texas Rangers overcame Chan Ho Park's
wildness to beat the Seattle Mariners 4-2 Friday night.

After the game, the 38-year-old slugger was asked if passing
Gehrig put his chase to join baseball's 500-homer club in
perspective.

''I guess it does, but right now it's still blurry,'' Palmeiro
said. ''I'm not really too worried about that right now. It's nice
and all, but I just want to keep doing what I'm doing and not worry
about the numbers.''

He hit a two-run shot in the fifth inning, leaving him six home
runs shy of becoming the second player to reach the 500-mark this
season. The Chicago Cubs' Sammy Sosa did it April 4.

Palmeiro hit his fourth homer of the season and his 11th at
Safeco Field -- the most for any visiting player -- off Freddy Garcia (1-2) after Alex Rodriguez walked. It was Palmeiro's 41st career
homer against the Mariners.

Palmeiro didn't have any explanation for his success at Safeco.

''It is a big park,'' he said. ''It's a good pitcher's park.
It's a good place to pitch. That's the way the game is, man. I
don't try to look into it too much or explain it.''

Rodriguez, who at 27 became the youngest player to hit 300
homers April 2, reached out and shook Palmeiro's hand as he walked
through the locker room with a large ice bag attached to his right
knee.

''He's better than ever,'' Rodriguez said, shaking his head.
''He keeps right on going. Raffy's amazing. He works so hard in the
offseason. He takes a lot of pride, he plays hurt. He might hit
600.''

Park (1-2), who lasted only 5 2/3 innings and gave up 10 earned
runs in his first two starts against Anaheim and Seattle, pitched
five innings and stranded 10 Mariners. He gave up just one run on
three hits, seven walks, a hit batsman and a balk, striking out
five.

Ugueth Urbina worked the ninth for his fourth save in as many
tries. The Mariners drew a season-high 11 walks, but stranded a
season-high 14 runners.

Texas manager Buck Showalter said Park would remain in the
rotation for now.

''This is hopefully something that Chan Ho and we can build
on,'' he said. ''He got some breaks, but certainly he deserved them
as hard as he worked tonight.''

Chad Kreuter, who caught Park when he won 18 games with the Los
Angeles Dodgers in 2000, was behind the plate Friday night.

''I'm thrilled that he went five,'' Kreuter said. ''I would have
liked to have seen him go six or seven. But all the damage that he
avoided, he made great pitches and got out some big hitters in the
middle of that lineup.''

The Rangers took a 2-0 lead in the fourth on four hits and a
wild pitch from Garcia.

Rodriguez opened with an infield single and Palmeiro singled him
to third. On a 1-1 pitch to Juan Gonzalez, Garcia threw a wild
pitch to score Rodriguez and send Palmeiro to second.

Garcia struck out Gonzalez and got Ruben Sierra to ground out,
moving Palmeiro to third. He scored on Carl Everett's infield
single.

In the fourth, the Mariners ended a drought of 15 consecutive
scoreless innings. Park walked Randy Winn to lead off the inning
and balked him to second. John Olerud singled in Winn to end
Seattle's 0-for-19 string with runners in scoring position.

The Mariners got their second run on Winn's sacrifice fly in the
sixth after a double by Dan Wilson and a single by Ichiro Suzuki.

Garcia, Seattle's opening day starter, went five innings and
gave up four runs on seven hits.

The Mariners have a total of three runs and 18 hits in their
past three games, all defeats.

''You are going to go through periods like this,'' manager Bob
Melvin said. ''It gets frustrating. You just to have to swing your
way out of it.''

Mike Cameron expected the Mariners to lack power this season.

''We are not a team that will hit three or four home runs a
game,'' he said. ''So we have to have quality at-bats and put the
ball in play.''

Game notes
Rodriguez, who left Seattle as a free agent after the 2000
season to sign his $252 million contract with Texas, was booed each
time he came to the plate. But the boos were mixed with some
applause, and there were no signs and no fake money was thrown from
Safeco Field's upper decks, which happened during Rodriguez's first
two seasons in Texas when he returned to Seattle. ... Park lowered
his ERA from 15.88 to 8.44. ... The Texas bullpen has allowed one
run in its last 9 1/3 innings.