Palmeiro Returns, Avoids Steroids Talk

The Baltimore Orioles welcomed back Rafael Palmeiro (search), then beat the Tampa Bay Devil Rays while he watched from the dugout.

Bruce Chen (search) pitched seven innings of three-hit ball, and Javy Lopez (search) 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 (search), 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. "We'll see what he looks like tomorrow. He might take a couple of days, I think."

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.

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.

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 Devil Rays manager Lou 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.