Ex-Cub Palmeiro homers for third straight game


CHICAGO (AP) -- Nearly 14 years after he was traded away, Rafael Palmeiro returned to Wrigley Field and showed the Chicago Cubs what
they've been missing.

Not that the 37-year-old Palmerio has to prove himself to
anyone; he's well-established as one of the game's premier power

"I think we had closure a long time ago,'' Palmeiro said after
homering for the third straight game and leading the Texas Rangers
to a 7-4 win Thursday over the Cubs, who drafted him in 1985.

"I was fortunate to come back here and play these three games
and do pretty good,'' Palmeiro said.

"If I don't ever come back here and play again, at least I have
these three games to look back on.''

Palmeiro hit a go-ahead homer in the eighth and one out later
Kevin Mench added his second of the game as Texas won two of three.

Palmeiro's appearance at Wrigley was his first since the 1988
season. Two months after it ended, he was traded to Texas for the
first time with pitchers Drew Hall and Jamie Moyer for pitchers
Paul Kilgus, Mitch Williams and Steve Wilson, infielder Curtis
Wilkerson and two minor leaguers.

He has 462 career homers -- 437 of them after leaving the Cubs.

"He doesn't look like a McGwire or a Canseco, he's a smaller
guy,'' Cubs manager Don Baylor said.

"He has that great hand-eye coordination and he's always had
one of the prettiest swings in the game. And he's on a mission for
500 homers.''

Palmeiro, bothered by ankle and calf injuries, drove a pitch
from Juan Cruz (1-9) just over the right field wall and then
hobbled around the bases after his 15th homer of the season.

"It put us ahead, it's a nice home run,'' Palmeiro said.

"It's not anything to get back at them or anything. I just hit
a home run to put us ahead and we won the game.''

Mench then hit his second long homer to left and fifth of the
season for a two-run cushion. Todd Greene and Mench connected
back-to-back off Chicago starter Matt Clement in the seventh.

Francisco Cordero pitched the ninth for his second save in as
many chances.

Rangers starter Ismael Valdes gave up a leadoff homer to Corey
Patterson, but then was pretty much unhittable, retiring 18
straight at one stretch before Moises Alou singled with one out in
the seventh.

Bothered by a blister, Valdes walked Todd Hundley. Anthony
Telford (1-0) relieved and Alex Gonzalez -- who hit a game-winning,
ninth-inning homer Tuesday night -- greeted him with a three-run
homer to make it 4-4.

Clement struck out 10, including the side in the third and sixth
innings, before wilting in the 89-degree heat in the seventh when
Greene -- a late lineup addition after Gabe Kapler was scratched
with a sore wrist -- and Mench homered.

Texas pushed across two in the fifth as Mench doubled, Ryan
Ludwick walked and Michael Young hit an RBI single.

When Valdes dropped down a perfect bunt to the right of the
mound, Ludwick waited and then scored easily when Clement fielded
the ball and had to go to first.

Game notes
Palmeiro is tied for 23rd place on the homer list with Ken
Griffey Jr., and Jose Canseco. He also has a major league-best 31
interleague homers, one more than Sammy Sosa. ... Greene was
0-for-16 when he homered. ... Juan Gonzalez sat out his second
straight game with a sore right thumb, but should be back in the
lineup Friday against Pittsburgh, manager Jerry Narron said. ...
The Cubs will explore possible disciplinary action against reliever
Kyle Farnsworth, who was excused from the team Monday so he could
witness the birth of his first child. He did not return until after
Wednesday's game had started, missing Tuesday night's game -- an
unexcused absence.