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White Sox Knockout Orioles 7-4


Rafael Palmeiro was smiling after hitting his 40th home run. Willis Otanez, who had his left arm in a cast, seemed a more accurate symbol of Baltimore's wild-card chances.

Greg Norton had three hits, including a two-run homer, and drove in three runs as the Chicago White Sox handed the Orioles their fourth straight loss, 7-4 Thursday night.

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  • Palmeiro hit his career-high 40th homer for the Orioles, a two-run shot off Bob Howry in the eighth. But that didn't prevent the White Sox from sweeping three games from Baltimore, which entered the series 31-11 since the All-Star break.

    "The team is down a little bit right now," Palmeiro said. "We came in down. We've got to put this series behind us. We've got to play each game like it's the last game of a series. We've got to win them all."

    And his 40th?

    "I'm proud I was able tO accomplish that," he said. "It means a lot to me."

    It was Chicago's first three-game sweep this season and first sweep of Baltimore at home since May 15-17, 1990.

    The Orioles didn't lose any ground in the AL wild-card race because of Boston's 6-3 loss to Oakland. Baltimore trails the Red Sox by 10 games.

    "We could've gained a game but we didn't lose one," Orioles manager Ray Miller said. "But we lost a real talented kid."

    Otanez fractured his left wrist making a diving catch in the first inning and is out for the season. Throokie will be examined Friday in Baltimore.

    "It's the first time I've broken a bone in my life," Otanez said. "I didn't hear anything but I felt something real cold. I looked and said something is wrong with it."

    After Robin Ventura doubled in the seventh, Norton hit his seventh homer of the season to give Chicago a 7-2 lead.

    "I'm just trying to go out there and play hard," Norton said. "(Scott) Erickson is one of the nastiest pitchers I've ever faced. I was just trying to survive out there."

    Jim Parque (4-5) battled a head cold and the Orioles, giving up two runs and seven hits over six innings. He has not allowed more than four earned runs in any of his last 12 starts.

    "My head feels as big as this clubhouse," Parque said. "I've always thrown better when I was sick. In college, I threw with mono. I was huffin' and puffin' out there."

    Bill Simas pitched a hitless ninth for his 17th save.

    Erickson (14-10) had his three-game winning streak snapped. Erickson, who is 3-10 against the White Sox, up seven runs and eight hits in 6 1/3 innings.

    The White Sox loaded the bases in the first when Erickson walked two batters and hit another. Albert Belle and Norton then hit RBI singles, Jeff Abbott had a sacrifice fly and Magglio Ordonez added an RBI single to put the White Sox up 4-0.

    "The first pitch was right down the middle of the plate and it was called a ball and I didn't like that," Erickson said. "Frank (Thomas) doesn't swing if it's not a strike and basically all night long it was a joke. We're in a little bit of a slump team-wise. I hope it doesn't last long."

    The Orioles scored a run in the second when Lenny Webster hit into a double play, and Baltimore made it 4-2 in the sixth on Rich Becker's third homer of the season.

    Abbott scored on a squeeze bunt by Robert Machado in the White Sox sixth to make it 5-2.

    Notes

  • Miller addressed the team for 10 minutes before the game. Miller said the meeting was a chance to "get some things off our chests."
  • The Orioles' losing streak is their longest since dropping eight in a row June 23-July 1.
  • The 10-game gap between Boston and Baltimore in the AL wild-card race is the largest margin since Aug. 2. At the All-Star break, Baltimore was 151/2 games behind.
  • Palmeiro's previous home run high was 39 set in 1995 and matched in 1996.
  • The Orioles will call up outfielder Danny Clyburn from Triple-A Rochester to take Otanez's spot on the roster.
  • Chicago second baseman Ray Durham left after four innings because of a jammed right wrist. He hurt the wrist when he stole second base in the second inning, and aggravated the injury while batting in the fourth.

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