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Palmeiro passes Ruth on career hits list

BALTIMORE -- Rafael Palmeiro walked through the
Orioles' clubhouse with a white tube sock that contained a baseball
he considered priceless.

Scrawled on the outside of the sock was the number of hits he
has in the majors, 2,874, one more than Babe Ruth.

Palmeiro passed Ruth on the career hits list, and the Orioles
beat Seattle 5-4 Tuesday night to complete the first doubleheader
sweep against the Mariners in 16 years.

In the opener, Palmeiro drove in three runs and Javy Lopez hit a
three-run homer, leading Baltimore to a 9-7 victory.

After going 2-for-3 in the day game to tie Ruth for 36th place,
Palmeiro moved past the Bambino in the night game with a
fourth-inning single to right off Jamie Moyer. It was Palmeiro's
lone hit of the game, but it's one he will never forget.

"It won't sink in until I can really sit back and understand
what I've done," Palmeiro said. "I mean it's Babe Ruth. In a lot
of people's eyes, he was the greatest hitter of all time. I'm
nowhere close to that, but at least for one day, I can say I have
one more hit than Babe."

Melvin Mora and Larry Bigbie hit two-run homers in the second
game for the Orioles, who clinched their first home series win
since May 7-9. The teams conclude the three-game set Wednesday
night.

"Maybe we can get back on the positive track," Palmeiro said.

In the second game, a double-error by Baltimore shortstop Miguel
Tejada let in the tying run in the eighth inning. But Tejada hit a
leadoff double in the bottom half against George Sherrill (0-1),
took third on a wild pitch and scored on a single by Jerry
Hairston.

"Even if I didn't make an error, I was ready to get on base
anyway," Tejada said. "I don't think I hit the double just
because I made the error."

Seattle, which stranded 11 runners in the first game and 14 in
the second, has lost five straight and eight of nine.

"We had some opportunities to blow the games wide open,"
Mariners manager Bob Melvin said. "We're just leaving too many
guys on. We're swinging the bat a lot better but we're not getting
that big hit when we need it."

Despite totaling 31 hits, including 16 in the opener, the
Mariners were swept in a doubleheader for the first time since Aug.
24, 1988, also at Baltimore.

"We are all to blame. I'm as frustrated as everybody else is,"
second baseman Bret Boone said.

Mora homered in the first inning of the second game, but Seattle
tied it in the second inning when Justin Leone homered off Dave
Borkowski and Willie Bloomquist hit an RBI single.

After Bigbie connected in the third to put Baltimore up 4-2, the
Mariners got a run in the fourth when Leone doubled and scored on a
single by Bloomquist.

In the eighth, Tejada misplayed a grounder and then kicked it
after he chased it down, allowing Bloomquist to score from second
with the tying run. But he soon redeemed himself.

"To come back and hit that double, that's the sign of a great
player," Orioles manager Lee Mazzilli said.

Jorge Julio (2-2), the sixth Baltimore pitcher, got the final
four outs, striking out the side in the ninth.

Moyer gave up four runs and eight hits in seven innings and is
winless in nine starts since June 18.

The first game was a seesaw affair in which Orioles starter
Sidney Ponson blew leads of 3-2, 6-4 and 7-5.

After Seattle scored twice in the seventh to make it 7-all,
Baltimore regained the lead in the bottom half. Hairston singled
off Clint Nageotte (1-5) and scored when Bigbie snapped a 2-for-20
slump with a two-out, opposite-field double to left off Mike Myers.

Jason Grimsley (4-5) struck out the side in the seventh, B.J.
Ryan worked out of a bases-loaded jam in the eighth and Julio got
three outs for his 16th save.

Edgar Martinez homered and Ichiro Suzuki went 5-for-5 for the
Mariners. Suzuki's five hits matched a career high, set just five
days earlier in Anaheim. He did not start the nightcap because of
flu-like symptoms, but entered as a pinch runner in the seventh and
finished the game.

Game notes
Mora has hit safely in 13 of 17 games since being activated
from the disabled list on July 18. ... Suzuki is 8-for-12 against
Ponson and has a lifetime .384 average against the Orioles.