BALTIMORE – Sammy Sosa hit his 583rd home run to tie Mark McGwire for sixth place on the career list, highlighting a six-run fourth inning that carried the Baltimore Orioles past the Colorado Rockies 7-2 Saturday night.

Sosa’s homer off Byung-Hyun Kim was an opposite-field shot that cleared the 25-foot scoreboard in right field. It was the ninth home run of the year for the former Chicago Cubs slugger, who waged a memorable duel against McGwire in 1998 when both were vying to break Roger Maris’ single-season record of 61.

McGwire finished with 70 homers that year; Sosa had 66. The record was broken in 2001 by Barry Bonds, who hit 73.

Sosa now needs 17 home runs to become the fifth player in major league history to hit 600. After striking out three times Friday, he went 2-for-4 with a double and scored two runs.

Baltimore’s Rafael Palmeiro singled twice to move within 21 hits of joining Hank Aaron, Willie Mays and Eddie Murray as the only players in major league history to have 3,000 hits and 500 homers.

Sidney Ponson (7-4) gave up two runs and nine hits in seven innings for the Orioles, who have won four of five. He struck out six and walked none.

Eddy Garabito hit his first major league homer and Todd Helton had two doubles for the Rockies, who fell to 5-27 on the road.

Miguel Tejada led off the fourth with his 19th home run to put Baltimore up 1-0. Two pitches later, Sosa performed his trademark hop at the plate an instant after sending the ball toward the flag court beyond the wall in right.

Palmeiro followed with a single and went to third on a double by Jay Gibbons before B.J. Surhoff and Sal Fasano hit RBI singles. After Larry Bigbie drew a walk, Brian Roberts chased Kim with a two-run single.

Marcos Carvajal then got Melvin Mora to hit into a double play. Mora accounted for all three outs in the inning.

Kim (1-6) gave up six runs and nine hits in his third stint since joining Colorado’s rotation. He allowed a total of four runs over 12 innings in his other two starts.

Baltimore made it 7-0 in the fifth when Sosa hit a one-out double and scored on a single by Palmeiro.

Garabito, a former Orioles minor leaguer, hit a two-run shot in the seventh.

Notes: The Orioles have hit back-to-back homers eight times this season. … Colorado is 1-16 on the road when scoring fewer than three runs. … Every Baltimore starter had at least one hit by the fourth inning. … The Orioles have averaged 7.6 runs in Ponson’s 14 starts. … Baltimore planned to activate OF Luis Matos from the disabled list after the game.

AP-ES-06-18-05 2145EDT

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