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Orioles cut AL East deficit to three games

BALTIMORE (AP) -- Two home runs, a timely pickoff play and a
persistent rain provided the Baltimore Orioles with a much-needed
victory.

Eli Marrero and Melvin Mora hit solo shots and Sammy Sosa added
his first RBI since June 19, leading Baltimore past David Wells and
the Boston Red Sox 3-1 on Thursday night in a game called after six
innings because of rain.

Daniel Cabrera (7-7) pitched five rocky innings for the Orioles,
whose third win in 12 games pulled them within three games of
first-place Boston in the AL East.

"We needed a break," Baltimore manager Lee Mazzilli said.
"It's good to get a win like this."

A steady rain shower pelted the sellout crowd of 47,389
throughout much of the game, and umpires finally stopped play after
the sixth inning. After a delay of an hour, the game was called.

"That's the way it goes," Boston manager Terry Francona said.
"You can't figure out a way to beat Mother Nature."

Wells (6-5) gave up three runs and five hits in six innings. The
left-hander was 4-0 in eight starts since May 18, and the Red Sox
were 7-0 in his starts since May 29, when Wells switched his
uniform number from 3 to 16.

The Red Sox trailed 2-1 in the fifth when David Ortiz hit a
two-out single and took third on a double by Trot Nixon. After
Cabrera walked Kevin Millar to load the bases, the count went to
2-0 on John Olerud before Baltimore catcher Sal Fasano rifled a
throw to shortstop Miguel Tejada, who applied the tag on Nixon for
a pickoff that ended the threat.

"That was the game right there," Mazzilli said. "Big play."

Tejada signaled for the throw after he saw Nixon stray from
second base on the first pitch to Olerud, and Fasano complied with
a near-perfect toss.

"Cabrera left the ball up, a perfect one to throw on," Fasano
said. "I saw there was a lot of daylight between the runner and
Miggy, so I knew I had a good chance."

It would be Boston's last real chance to take the lead.

"It goes without saying, you'd like to see that at-bat play
out," Francona said. "Trot knows that. He'll be kicking himself
more than anybody else."

Sosa's run-scoring single in the sixth made it 3-1 and ended a
run of 47 at-bats without an RBI. The slumping slugger had only
four hits in that span.

Earlier in the day, the Red Sox obtained Alex Cora from the
Cleveland Indians for Ramon Vazquez. Cora played shortstop and went
0-for-3 with two strikeouts in place of injured leadoff hitter
Johnny Damon, who has a sore shoulder.

Baltimore's Rafael Palmeiro, who came in with a lifetime .178
batting average against Wells, went 0-for-3 to remain seven hits
shy of becoming the fourth player in major league history with
3,000 hits and 500 home runs.

Cabrera allowed one run and three hits. He walked five, hit a
batter and threw two wild pitches in an effort that was aided
greatly by the pivotal pickoff.

"The right play at the right time, the play of the game,"
Cabrera said.

Tim Byrdak worked the sixth. The left-hander has not allowed a
run in three appearances since being recalled from Triple-A Ottawa
on Saturday.

Cabrera walked three batters in the third inning and let a run
come home on a wild pitch, but Marrero and Mora put Baltimore up
2-1 in the bottom half. Marrero led off with a drive into the
left-field seats, and Mora's 15th homer of the season was an
opposite-field shot to right.

"I threw the ball down the middle and then got a ball up, and
in this ballpark if you get the ball up, the ball's going to fly,"
Wells said. "But knowing that going in, you got to try to keep the
ball down. I just made two bad pitches tonight, and it cost me the
game."

In the sixth, Tejada doubled and scored when Sosa bounced a
two-out single up the middle. Wells lifted his arms in disgust,
then retired Jay Gibbons before the umpires called for the field to
be covered.

Game notes
The Orioles activated outfielder B.J. Surhoff from the
15-day disabled list and optioned OF David Newhan to Triple-A
Ottawa. ... Red Sox closer Keith Foulke had arthroscopic surgery to
repair damaged cartilage in his left knee on Thursday. ... Boston
designated OF Jay Payton for assignment, activated OF Adam Stern
from the 60-day DL and sent LHP Lenny DiNardo to Triple-A
Pawtucket.