Orioles 4, Rockies 2

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BALTIMORE (AP)—The commonplace and the unexpected were on display during an afternoon in which the Baltimore Orioles concluded a successful homestand with a come-from-behind victory.

Rafael Palmeiro hit his 560th career homer to give Baltimore a sixth-inning lead, and the Orioles shook off Lee Mazzilli’s first ejection as a major league manager to beat the Colorado Rockies 4-2 Sunday.

The sight of Palmeiro rounding the bases is nothing new to Orioles fans, but Mazzilli had gone 229 games without being tossed before Sunday. Palmeiro’s homer and Mazzilli’s exit both occurred during the pivotal sixth inning.

Baltimore trailed 2-1 before Eli Marrero led off with a single off Jeff Francis (5-5) and Palmeiro lifted a 1-1 pitch into the right-field bleachers. His ninth homer of the season left him three short of tying Reggie Jackson for 10th place on the career list.

“It was tremendous. It really got us going,” Mazzilli said.

Chris Gomez followed with a drive to left that soared past the foul pole and landed in the seats. After third-base umpire Chris Guccione ruled it foul, Mazzilli ran out of the dugout to protest the call.

He continued the animated argument with crew chief Charlie Reliford, who finally served up Mazzilli’s first ejection since he took over as Baltimore’s manager before the 2004 season.

Asked what he said, Mazzilli replied, “It wasn’t Happy Father’s Day, I’ll tell you that.”

As he got to the dugout, Mazzilli tossed a tray of bubble gum onto the field.

“I couldn’t lift a 5-gallon container of Gatorade. I wouldn’t even try to do that,” he said.

Replays indicated the ball was foul, but Gomez appreciated the support.

“He felt strongly about it. It was a run,” Gomez said. “If I was manager, I’d feel strongly about it, too.”

Rookie Hayden Penn (2-0) allowed two runs and five hits in 6 2-3 innings for the Orioles, who won two of three from Colorado to conclude a 5-1 homestand.

After Palmeiro put Baltimore ahead, Colorado threatened in the seventh. But Steve Kline replaced Penn with two on and two outs and struck out Eddy Garabito.

Sammy Sosa singled in a run in the bottom half to make it 4-2, and Kline worked a perfect eighth before B.J. Ryan got three outs for his 18th save.

Preston Wilson homered for the Rockies, now 0-10-1 in 11 road series this season. Colorado won 2-1 on Friday night but lost the next two.

“Close is a lot better than far off. But it’s still (bad),” Colorado’s Todd Helton said.

Until Palmeiro connected, however, the series hung in the balance.

“I don’t think there’s any doubt that this team has built up confidence in its ability to compete,” Rockies manager Clint Hurdle said. “You take those rosters and throw them at one another, and on paper I don’t think anybody would have thought we won one, we lost one and we’d have been in this ballgame today.”

Francis allowed three runs and seven hits in six innings, striking out eight and walking two. But the fastball to Palmeiro proved to be his undoing.

“I was trying to go under his hands. I know that down and in he usually doesn’t miss them,” the rookie said. “But the ball was down the middle.”

Palmeiro had one homer, seven RBIs and a .221 batting average on May 8, but now he’s at .267 with 33 RBIs. His home run Sunday saved the Orioles from what would have been an embarrassing loss.

“It lifted us up. We took the lead there, and the momentum kind of shifted our way,” he said.

The Orioles went up 1-0 in the first inning when Luis Matos celebrated his return from the disabled list with a triple and scored on a one-out single by Miguel Tejada.

Wilson tied it in the fourth with his 12th home run, his only hit in the three-game series, and Colorado took a 2-1 lead in the fifth. Ryan Shealy drew a leadoff walk, took second on a single by Dustan Mohr and scored on two-out single by Garabito.

Notes

After the game, the Rockies designated INF Tim Olson for assignment and purchased the contract of RHP Dan Miceli from Triple-A Colorado Springs. … The Orioles moved a season high-tying 14 games over .500 (41-27). They were 29-39 a year ago. … Mohr turned 29 Sunday. He was 0-for-13 in the series before his fifth-inning single. … Baltimore is 8-7 in interleague play after starting the season 56-83 since 1997.

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