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Palmeiro watches from dugout as O's top Devil Rays

BALTIMORE (AP) -- While Rafael Palmeiro got used to being back in
a baseball uniform, Bruce Chen and the Baltimore Orioles made sure
he enjoyed the view from the dugout.

Chen pitched seven innings of three-hit ball, and Javy Lopez
homered and scored twice to lead Baltimore past the Tampa Bay Devil
Rays 4-2 Thursday night for a three-game sweep.

It was the Orioles' first series sweep since June 13-15, when
they took three from Houston. Baltimore is 5-2 under interim
manager Sam Perlozzo, who took over for Lee Mazzilli three days
after Palmeiro received a 10-day suspension from Major League
Baseball for using steroids.

Palmeiro received a warm reception from his teammates upon his
return, but Perlozzo decided to keep the slugger on the bench
because of the first baseman's inactivity during his suspension.

"I don't think he's done a whole lot so we'll take it a day at
a time. He won't be in there today," Perlozzo said before the
game. "We'll see what he looks like tomorrow. He might take a
couple of days, I think."

Palmeiro spoke briefly to the media before batting practice, but
insisted that he could not talk about his positive drug test for
steroids because information about the case is being reviewed by
Congress. He spoke again afterward, using the same ground rules.

Asked if he was disappointed to watch from the bench, Palmeiro
replied, "I haven't done anything in 10 days so I'll need a couple
days to get back into it."

Someone asked if he felt as though he was starting spring
training again.

"I feel fine," he said. "Spring training is a totally
different thing; your body gets sore from not doing baseball
activities. I've played over 100 games this year, so it's not like
I've been gone for three months."

Taking 10 days off was a strange experience for Palmeiro, who
has played in at least 143 games in every year since 1994.

"I've never had 10 days off. I've played 20 years and I've
never been on the [disabled list]," he said. "I've always played
in every game, so this is new to me."

Thanks to Chen, Palmeiro wasn't needed. Chen (9-6) gave up a
disputed home run to Eduardo Perez, but was in such command that
the Devil Rays did not strand a single runner over the
right-hander's seven innings of work.

"Seven innings in this heat against that ball club, that's an
outstanding job," Perlozzo said.

Chen struck out five and walked none. He threw only 77 pitches.

Todd Williams gave up one hit in the eighth and B.J. Ryan worked
a perfect ninth to complete the four-hitter and earn his 25th save.

Tampa Bay finished without leaving a runner on base.

"We didn't have any left on? I didn't realize that," Devil
Rays manager Lou Piniella said. "I know I didn't give many signs.
A couple of these guys are scuffling a little bit. ... We didn't do
much with the bats, we really didn't."

Baltimore got a run off Doug Waechter (4-8) in the second when
Lopez hit a leadoff single, took second on a walk and scored on a
single by David Newhan.

The Orioles made it 3-0 in the fourth. After Luis Matos hit an
RBI single, Waechter committed a balk with runners at the corners
and two outs.

A delayed home run call enabled Tampa Bay to close to 3-2 in the
fifth. Aubrey Huff hit a one-out double before Perez hit a shot to
the left-field wall that was initially ruled a double. But after
Piniella argued, the umpires huddled together and decided that the
ball made it to the seats on the fly.

Lopez hit his 10th homer leading off the sixth, his third hit of
the game. It was the team-high 18th homer allowed by Waechter.

Game notes
Tampa Bay has lost six of seven following a six-game
winning streak. ... To make room for Palmeiro on the 25-man roster,
the Orioles designated OF Midre Cummings for assignment. ... Eric
Byrnes went 0-for-4, the first time in 12 games with Baltimore that
he failed to get a hit.