Orioles 9, Mariners 7

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BALTIMORE (AP)—Rafael Palmeiro worked his way past the pack of reporters positioned at his locker, grabbed a chair and plopped himself down.

“I’m going to sit for this one,” he said. “I feel every bit of 39 years old right now.”

It’s tough work, chasing down the great ones.

Palmeiro tied Babe Ruth on the career hits list and drove in three runs, leading the Baltimore Orioles past the Seattle Mariners 9-7 Tuesday in the opener of a day-night doubleheader.

Palmeiro went 2-for-3 with two walks and has 2,873 hits, tied for 36th place. Earlier this season, he passed Mickey Mantle to move into 11th on the home run list.

“You stay around for 20 years and stay healthy and are productive a little bit, you’ll be able to do some things,” Palmeiro said.

Matching the Bambino proved to be a humbling—and surprising—experience.

“I didn’t realize that until I saw it on the board,” Palmeiro said. “That’s not even right, but it is. It happened.”

Javy Lopez hit a three-run homer and Larry Bigbie drove in the tiebreaking run in the seventh inning for the Orioles, who stopped a three-game skid. For Palmeiro, that was more significant than reaching another milestone.

“We’re trying to win some games,” he said. “It’s important and it’s a big thing, but at this point, it’s just a hit.”

After Seattle scored twice in the seventh to draw even, Baltimore regained the lead in the bottom half. Jerry 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 after replacing starter Sidney Ponson, B.J. Ryan worked out of a bases-loaded jam in the eighth and Jorge Julio got three outs for his 16th save.

Seattle lost its fourth straight despite getting 16 hits.

“We swung the bats pretty well again, but we’re into this thing where having a little trouble holding them down when we swing the bats well,” manager Bob Melvin said.

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.

Suzuki, who has been ailing of late, was not slated to start the second game.

“It’s not that I’m sick, it’s that it’s a little hot out there,” he said. “Skipper gave me a night off.”

Making his fifth start of the year for Seattle, Ron Villone didn’t make it out of the fourth inning. The left-hander gave up seven runs, five hits and five walks and was lifted after throwing 104 pitches.

The ineffective outing lifted his ERA from 2.88 to 3.58, but Villone averted the loss when the Mariners rallied against Ponson, who gave up leads of 3-2, 6-4 and 7-5.

Seattle made it 7-all in the seventh when Bret Boone hit a leadoff single and Martinez followed with his eighth homer, a shot to center that traveled an estimated 430 feet. Raul Ibanez then got his third hit to chase Ponson, who was vying to win his fourth straight start.

The right-hander yielded seven runs, 13 hits and two walks in six-plus innings.

“They give you seven runs, you should win ball games like that,” Ponson said. “I didn’t do my job today.”

The Mariners went up 2-0 in the first inning, the 10th straight game in which they scored first, but the Orioles scored three runs in their half, the last two on a two-out single by Palmeiro.

In the third, Martinez bounced into a double-play, scoring a run, and Ibanez hit an RBI single for a 4-3 lead.

Lopez put Baltimore back in front in the bottom half, hitting a 3-2 pitch deep into the left field seats. It was his 16th homer, the fourth in six games.

“I made some good pitches to Javy early on, and all of a sudden I threw one down the middle and he hit a home run,” Villone said.

Randy Winn singled in a run in the Seattle fourth to make it 6-5, but the Orioles chased Villone in their half, getting two on with two outs before Miguel Tejada greeted Nageotte with an RBI double.

Notes

Baltimore’s Melvin Mora has hit safely in 12 of 16 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.

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