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, 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 before the game. "We'll see what he looks like tomorrow. He might take a couple of days, I think."
Palmeiro spoke briefly to the media before batting practice, but insisted that he could not talk about his positive drug test for steroids because information about the case is being reviewed by Congress. He spoke again afterward, using the same ground rules.
Asked if he was disappointed to watch from the bench, Palmeiro replied, "I haven't done anything in 10 days so I'll need a couple days to get back into it."
Someone asked if he felt as though he was starting spring training again.
"I feel fine," he said. "Spring training is a totally different thing; your body gets sore from not doing baseball activities. I've played over 100 games this year, so it's not like I've been gone for three months."
Taking 10 days off was a strange experience for Palmeiro, who has played in at least 143 games in every year since 1994.
"I've never had 10 days off. I've played 20 years and I've never been on the (disabled list)," he said. "I've always played in every game, so this is new to me."
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.
"Seven innings in this heat against that ballclub, that's an outstanding job," Perlozzo said.
Chen struck out five and walked none. He threw only 77 pitches.
Tampa Bay finished without leaving a runner on base.
"We didn't have any left on? I didn't realize that," Devil Rays manager Lou Piniella said. "I know I didn't give many signs. A couple of these guys are scuffling a little bit. ... We didn't do much with the bats, we really didn't."
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 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.
- Tampa Bay has lost six of seven following a six-game winning streak.
- To make room for Palmeiro on the 25-man roster, the Orioles designated OF Midre Cummings for assignment.
- Eric Byrnes went 0-for-4, the first time in 12 games with Baltimore that he failed to get a hit.