TORONTO – Earplugs didn’t help Rafael Palmeiro stop his slump.

Palmeiro inserted earplugs after he was loudly booed during his first at-bat in the Baltimore Orioles’ 7-2 loss to the Toronto Blue Jays on Tuesday night. He went 0-for-4, leaving him with two hits in 26 at-bats, an .077 average, since a 10-day suspension for testing positive for steroids.

Palmeiro struck out swinging in the first inning, popped out weakly to the pitcher in the fourth, lined out to first base in the sixth and took a called third strike in the eighth. His batting average has dropped from .280 at the time of his suspension to .266.

Fans have jeered him and made disparaging remarks since his return. He is the most prominent major league player punished for taking banned drugs.

Palmeiro was Baltimore’s designated hitter, a day after interim manager Sam Perlozzo suggested he has lost his job as the regular first baseman.

Baltimore lost its fifth straight game and for the 10th time in 11 games. Rodrigo Lopez (13-8) gave up seven runs and 11 hits in 4 2-3 innings.

Marlins 7, Cardinals 6

MIAMI – Carlos Delgado hit a two-run triple in the eighth inning and the Florida Marlins recovered after blowing an early lead to beat the St. Louis Cardinals 7-6 on Tuesday night.

Florida opened an early four-run lead after Miguel Cabrera’s three-run homer in the third, but fell behind for the first time when Mark Grudzielanek’s run-scoring groundout gave the Cardinals a 5-4 lead in the eighth. Luis Castillo bunted for a leadoff single to begin the bottom of the inning, the first Marlins’ first hit off Matt Morris (14-6) since Cabrera’s 28th homer with nobody out in the third.

Cabrera singled to advance Castillo to third and chase Morris. Ray King relieved and got ahead 0-2 on Delgado before the Marlins slugger drove a liner beyond right fielder Larry Walker that rolled to the wall in right-center.

Tigers, Indians ppd.

CLEVELAND – The game between the Detroit Tigers and Cleveland Indians scheduled for Tuesday night was postponed because of rain before it started.

A makeup date was not immediately set, but the only day remaining during the season in which both teams are not scheduled is Sept. 8, the day after a three-game series between the AL Central rivals in Detroit.

“I was ready. I wanted to play,” Indians outfielder Coco Crisp said. “I think everybody in this clubhouse came here ready – even though it’s been raining all day.”

Mets 6, Phillies 4

NEW YORK – The New York Mets returned home with a dramatic victory that made the National League wild-card race even tighter.

Ramon Castro capped a comeback with a three-run homer in the eighth inning Tuesday night, and the Mets beat the Philadelphia Phillies 6-4.

The Phillies (70-62) fell into a tie with the Florida Marlins, who beat St. Louis 7-6. The Mets and Houston Astros (both 69-62) are a half-game back.

The Mets had trailed from the start after Kenny Lofton hit his first home run since opening day and Pat Burrell added a two-run shot in the first inning against Mets starter Jae Seo.

Cubs 6, Dodgers 3

CHICAGO – Nomar Garciaparra hit a solo home run and drove in two runs to back Mark Prior and help the Chicago Cubs beat the Los Angeles Dodgers 6-3 Tuesday night.

Henry Blanco hit a tiebreaking two-run single in the sixth inning and had three RBIs for the Cubs, who won just for the third time in 10 games.

Prior (10-5) allowed three runs and eight hits in six innings, struck out seven and walked none. Ryan Dempster pitched the ninth for his 20th save in 22 chances, retiring pinch-hitter Olmedo Saenz on a game-ending flyout with runners at the corners.

Jeff Kent and Mike Edwards hit solo homers for the Dodgers, who had won their previous three games. Brad Penny (6-9) gave up five runs and eight hits in 5 2-3 innings.

Nationals 3, Braves 2

ATLANTA – Rookie Jason Bergman earned his first major league win, leading a Washington bullpen that pitched 6 1-3 shutout innings in the Nationals’ 3-2 victory over the Atlanta Braves on Tuesday night.

Jose Guillen homered to help the Nationals move back above .500 in one-run games – a season-long gauge of the team’s success.

After Washington starter John Patterson was limited to 2 2-3 innings by stomach cramps, Bergman pitched two shutout innings in his second major league appearance to lead a strong effort by the Washington bullpen. He also scored the tying run in the fifth.

Hector Carrasco also pitched two shutout innings and Gary Majewski gave up two hits but no runs in 1 1-3 innings. Chad Cordero worked the ninth for his 42nd save in 46 opportunities.

Pirates 6, Brewers 0

MILWAUKEE – Paul Maholm pitched eight shutout innings in his major league debut Tuesday night and the Pittsburgh Pirates had a five-run first inning in a 6-0 victory over the Milwaukee Brewers that snapped a five-game losing streak.

The Pirates’ first-round draft choice in 2003, Maholm (1-0) replaced Zach Duke in the rotation when the team’s rookie phenom went on the disabled list. The left-hander gave up four hits and three walks while striking out five and keeping the Brewers 0-for-5 with runners in scoring position.

Milwaukee’s Doug Davis (9-10) has failed to win in 13 starts dating to June 22.

The left-hander walked four and gave up two hits in the five-run first inning.

The Brewers have lost three consecutive games since ace Ben Sheets tore a back muscle, a season-ending injury.

Astros 5, Reds 2

HOUSTON – Morgan Ensberg hit a three-run homer in a five-run fifth inning that rallied Houston past the Cincinnati Reds 5-2 on Tuesday night and closed the Astros within a half-game of the NL wild-card lead.

Wandy Rodriguez (9-6) won for the fifth time in his last seven decisions, allowing one run and four hits in five innings and dropping his ERA from a team-high 6.16 to 5.94. The Astros have backed him with an average of 7.78 runs a game, more than double the team-low 3.61 given Roger Clemens.

Cincinnati loaded the bases in the ninth against Brad Lidge on a single by pinch-hitter Jacob Cruz and two walks. Pinch-hitter Javier Valentin hit an RBI groundout before Lidge struck out Edwin Encarnacion to end the game.

Twins 7, Royals 4

KANSAS CITY, Mo. – Joe Mauer singled, doubled and tripled and Justin Morneau hit a three-run homer in the Minnesota Twins’ 7-4 victory over the Kansas City Royals on Tuesday night.

Morneau, who came in on a 2-for-21 slide, hit a 3-2 pitch from Jimmy Gobble an estimated 423 feet, capping a five-run sixth inning. Gobble had just come in for starter Jose Lima (5-13).

Mauer scored twice and had two RBIs. He had a triple in the first, a single in the third and a double in the sixth, all off Lima.

Rangers, White Sox split

ARLINGTON, Texas – Brandon McCarthy pitched two-hit ball over 7 2-3 innings for his first major league win, Jermaine Dye had two homers and six RBIs, and the Chicago White Sox beat the Texas Rangers 8-0 Tuesday night for a doubleheader split.

McCarthy (1-1) was called up from Triple-A Charlotte earlier in the day to make his sixth major league start. He held the Rangers hitless over the first 4 1-3 innings until Alfonso Soriano’s double.

In the first game, rookie left-hander C.J. Wilson allowed one run and two hits in five innings of relief for his first major league win, Mark Teixeira drove in six runs and hit a pair of two-run homers off 16-game winner Jon Garland, and the Rangers won 8-6.


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