BALTIMORE (AP) – Hours after Rafael Palmeiro was suspended for violating baseball’s steroid policy, the Chicago White Sox capped a miserable day for Baltimore by sending the Orioles to their 12th loss in 13 games and completing a four-game sweep.

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 White Sox finished off their first four-game sweep in Baltimore since 1954 with a 6-3 victory.

Before the game began, 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 have 3,000 hits and 500 homers. Baltimore’s cleanup hitter is batting .280 with 18 homers and 59 RBIs.

Without him Monday, the Orioles stranded 10 runners and completed a dismal 1-7 homestand in which they were outscored 52-31. Throughout the homestand, a 20-foot high sign on the warehouse beyond the right-field wall read, “CONGRATULATIONS RAFFY! 3000”.

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 home 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 of his teammates. Despite the early departure, he earned the win after allowing no earned runs on 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 in the eighth 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.

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.

AP-ES-08-01-05 1555EDT

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