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White Sox keep Orioles on the skids

BALTIMORE (AP) -- Soon after Rafael Palmeiro was suspended for
violating baseball's steroid policy, the Baltimore Orioles tried to
focus on playing the Chicago White Sox.

No chance. Not with the warehouse beyond the right-field wall at
Camden Yards displaying a 20-foot sign that read, "CONGRATULATIONS
RAFFY! 3000."

The White Sox capped a miserable day for Baltimore by sending
the Orioles to their 12th loss in 13 games, finishing their first
four-game sweep in Baltimore since 1954 with a 6-3 victory Monday.

Mark Buehrle's streak of pitching at least six innings ended at
49 games with an ejection for hitting a batter with a pitch, but
the left-hander -- and the White Sox -- both won anyway.

Before the game got underway, the Orioles learned that Palmeiro
received a 10-day suspension for violating Major League Baseball's
steroid policy. Palmeiro testified before Congress five months ago
that he never used steroids, an assertion he changed Monday to, "I
have never intentionally used steroids. Never. Ever. Period."

Soon after the first pitch, the news began to circulate
throughout the sellout crowd of 47,823.

"It surprises me after what happened and what he said in
Congress, that he then gets suspended," said Gabriel Snyder, a
member of the Coast Guard stationed in Baltimore. "This guy, he
had to have known what the rules were, especially after being in
front of Congress.

"I'm just really surprised. I didn't expect it from him."

The sinking Orioles could ill afford the loss of Palmeiro, who
on July 15 became the fourth player in major league history to
reach 3,000 hits and 500 homers. Baltimore's cleanup hitter is
batting .280 with 18 homers and 59 RBI.

"The timing obviously is not good. We're going to have to make
do right now," Orioles manager Lee Mazzilli said. "We're going to
have to band together as a team and fight through it. There's no
other way of doing it."

Without Palmeiro on Monday, the Orioles stranded 10 runners and
completed a dismal 1-7 homestand in which they were outscored
52-31.

Buehrle had gone six innings or more in every start since May 5,
2004, at Baltimore. He was well on his way to extending the streak
until he hit B.J. Surhoff in the back with a pitch with two outs in
the sixth and was immediately ejected by plate umpire Brian Gorman.

On Sunday night, Orioles reliever Todd Williams hit Chicago
second baseman Tadahito Iguchi with a pitch. Following the game,
White Sox manager Ozzie Guillen lashed out at the pitcher for
intentionally throwing at Iguchi, who left with a bruised hip and
didn't play Monday.

After Orioles starter Daniel Cabrera hit A.J. Pierzynski with a
pitch in the top of the sixth, no warning was issued. But Gorman
wasted no time tossing Buehrle in the bottom half.

Upon reaching the dugout, Buehrle (12-4) bumped fists with
several teammates.

"If there had been warnings issued and I hit a guy, yeah, I
would understand," he said. "But to go out there and do what they
did, and then I hit a guy, and I guess they looked at it as
intentional."

Referring to the surprise end of his streak, Buehrle said, "It
was fun while it lasted. I would have liked to keep it going, but
we won the game. It has to end sometime, it was unfortunate the way
it ended, but I'll try to go out and start another one."

Mazzilli suspected the pitch was intentionally thrown at
Surhoff.

"It seemed like it was, yeah," he said. "It looked like it
was tit-for-tat."

Despite the early departure, Buehrle earned the win after
allowing no earned runs and five hits.

Dustin Hermanson, the sixth Chicago pitcher, worked the ninth
for his 25th save.

Jermaine Dye snapped a 1-all tie with an RBI single off Cabrera
(8-9) in the sixth, and Timo Perez singled in a run in the seventh.

Chicago made it 6-1 in the eighth. Pierzynski hit his
career-high 16th homer, and Pablo Ozuna added a two-run double to
seal the victory for the White Sox, whose last four-game sweep in
Baltimore came during the first year after the Orioles moved from
St. Louis.

Cabrera made his second start in three days for the Orioles,
returning after a 33-pitch performance Saturday that ended with him
being hit on the pitching hand with a line drive.

The right-hander gave up three runs and five hits in 6 1/3
innings.

The White Sox got a run in the first when Perez drew a leadoff
walk and scored on a single by Carl Everett. Baltimore tied it with
an unearned run in the second.

Game notes
Chicago has outscored the opposition 88-43 in the first
inning this season. ... Eric Byrnes went 2-for-5 and has hit in all
three games since joining Baltimore on Saturday. ... Buehrle's
49-game run was the longest such streak since Steve Carlton did it
in 69 straight games, from 1979-82.