SEATTLE (AP)—Sure, Rafael Palmeiro can wait another day.
The Baltimore first baseman moved within one hit of 3,000, Daniel Cabrera pitched a two-hitter through eight innings and the Orioles opened the second half with a 5-3 victory over the Seattle Mariners on Thursday night.
Jay Gibbons hit a two-run homer and Sal Fasano added a solo shot as the Orioles erased an early 3-0 deficit on a night when Cabrera (8-7) was tough to hit and Baltimore pulled one game behind AL East-leading Boston.
But the story was Palmeiro’s bid for history, and even Mariners fans cheered him each time he came up.
“It’s unfortunate for the pitcher,” Palmeiro said. “I’m sure once I get it over with, they won’t do it any more. They’ll be booing me.”
With 566 home runs, Palmeiro is poised to join Hank Aaron, Willie Mays and Eddie Murray as the only players in history with 3,000 hits and 500 homers.
Palmeiro got career hit No. 2,999 with a one-out single to right in the fourth. It was a clean liner off starter Aaron Sele (6-9).
“At that point, I thought I might get it done tonight,” said Palmeiro, who tries again Friday against Joel Pineiro. “I had two or three at-bats left. I felt good, and these guys don’t pitch around me.”
Gibbons followed with a high shot off the facing of the middle deck in right, pulling Baltimore to 3-2.
Palmeiro went 1-for-3 with a walk. He grounded out in the second and sixth and walked in the eighth, resulting in boos from a home crowd known for its devotion to the Mariners.
“The fans just wanted to see it happen,” said Palmeiro, who admitted being warmed by the response. “It’s going to happen eventually. If not tonight, then tomorrow or the next night.”
Palmeiro was on deck when Miguel Tejada was retired to end the top of the ninth, drawing more boos. Every time Palmeiro stepped up, his teammates leaned on the dugout railing and flashbulbs popped on every pitch.
“I would assume they were booing Tejada for making the last out,” Seattle manager Mike Hargrove said. “We got booed for walking him, and Tejada got booed for making an out.”
B.J. Ryan struck out the side in the ninth for his 20th save in 23 chances.
“A great way to start the second half,” Baltimore manager Lee Mazzilli said.
Fasano tied it for Baltimore leading off the fifth, sending Sele’s first pitch into the front row of the center-field stands—just out of the reach of Jeremy Reed.
Baltimore went ahead 4-3 in the sixth. Gibbons hit a one-out single, advanced on a walk by Luis Matos, went to third a wild pitch and scored on Larry Bigbie’s sacrifice fly. Sammy Sosa capped the scoring with a sacrifice fly in the ninth.
Cabrera was strong all night, holding the Mariners to a season-low two hits. The 6-foot-7 right-hander was dominant, logging one walk and six strikeouts. He threw only four pitches in the fifth.
“He was absolutely outstanding,” Mazzilli said. “He had one bad inning where he got knocked around a little. After that it was just lights out.”
Seattle led 3-0 in the second after the Orioles committed two errors. Willie Bloomquist had an RBI single, and two runs scored when right fielder Gibbons was charged with an error on a throw to third.
Sele pitched six innings, allowing four runs and seven hits.
Sosa hit in the No. 2 spot for the first time since May 23, 1993, when he played for the Cubs at Florida. … Sele has allowed 23 of Palmeiro’s hits, matching Chuck Finley for second place on the list of pitchers most victimized by the slugger. Roger Clemens ranks first, giving up 30. … The Orioles beat Seattle for the fourth time this year and have beaten the Mariners in 11 of the last 12 meetings. … Seattle’s Ichiro Suzuki was 0-for-4, ending his 11-game hitting streak.