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Ramirez earns first Major League win

The Orioles have made it clear that they won't be satisfied with a Wild Card berth. They want to win the American League East and the guaranteed ticket to the ALDS that comes with it.

"We're trying to win our division, and we are trying to get to the playoffs -- in that order," manager Buck Showalter said on Sunday.

A win over Seattle on Tuesday, coupled with a Yankees loss, would elevate the Orioles into sole possession of first place for the first time since June 6. They trail New York by a half-game in the AL East and hold a three-game edge on the Angels for the No. 2 AL Wild Card spot.

The Mariners, meanwhile, will be looking to play spoiler after they got trounced in Monday's series opener, 10-4. It would take a white-hot finish, but Seattle -- currently 70-78 -- still has a chance at finishing with a .500 record.

Mariners manager Eric Wedge said he plans to play hard until the final day, and that means he'll generally opt for the most talented lineup over playing prospects.

"We are going to field out our best lineup," Wedge said. "It doesn't mean we're not going to still play some of these young kids, because on a particular day, we feel like that might be it."

Orioles left-hander Wei-Yin Chen gets the ball Tuesday. He took a no-decision in the club's 14-inning win over Tampa Bay on Thursday, striking out seven in 7 1/3 innings.

The rookie Chen (12-9, 4.00 ERA) has a limited history against the Mariners, but it's a good one. In his only start against them he tossed 7 1/3 innings, allowing two runs on two hits in Seattle on July 3.

Opposite Chen will be righty Erasmo Ramirez, who notched his first big league victory his last time out. Ramirez (1-2, 3.49 ERA) has jumped around from bullpen to starter to disabled list to Triple-A Tacoma this season, and he's trying to prove he belongs in the rotation next season.

Orioles: Thome on the mend
Jim Thome hit in a simulated game in Sarasota, Fla., on Monday. He is hoping for a return from a herniated disk in his neck later this week.

"We'd love to get him back," Showalter said. "Especially with Wilson [Betemit] being out. But we won't see him before Thursday, that's for sure."

Thome was acquired from Philadelphia on July 1, and in 18 games with Baltimore, he's hit .261 with two home runs. He hasn't played a game since July 27.

Mariners: Spoiler alert
The Mariners' goal of making the playoffs has been gone for some time now, but that doesn't mean they won't be impacting pennant races in September.

To close out the season, Seattle faces the Orioles, Rangers, Angels and A's -- all teams in the thick of the playoff hunt.

"There are some games that are perceived as more meaningful than others because, quite frankly, they are," Wedge said. "From our standpoint, every game, every win means something for us. I know they do for other teams, too, but as we're building this thing and moving forward, every win means something."

Worth noting
• Seattle outfielder Franklin Gutierrez is hitting .358 in his career against Baltimore with two homers and 11 RBIs in 29 games.

• Baltimore has struggled a bit against AL West opponents this season, going just 14-18.

• Mariners closer Tom Wilhelmsen has recorded a save in each of Seattle's six September wins.

• The Orioles and White Sox are the only teams with five players who have 20 or more home runs.

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