Sealed with a song

Breaking news from the front trenches of stamp collecting: To commemorate the 100th anniversary of the national pastime's theme song, the U.S. Postal Service is issuing a "Take Me Out to the Ball Game" stamp, a 42-center, next Wednesday.

Not to be left out of the excitement, President Bush will host the first all-star T-ball game on the South Lawn that day. We are not making that up.

The song's lyrics were penned in 1908 by Jack Norworth, a songwriter and vaudevillian who saw a poster promoting a game at the Polo Grounds as he rode a New York subway train. Here's the clincher: Norworth said he didn't attend his first baseball game until 32 years later.

Mired at 350

With the Padres' 3-1 loss to the Marlins on Monday, Greg Maddux failed to toss his 351st victory for the 11th consecutive start. Maddux, a lock for the Hall of Fame, became the ninth big-leaguer to reach 350 wins on May 10. Since then he is 0-4 with seven no decisions.

Braves signing

Atlanta has added a veteran to its bullpen: Julian Tavarez. The Braves said yesterday that they have signed the 35-year-old righthanded reliever, who was tossed overboard this year by the Red Sox and the Brewers, for the rest of the season. In 16 combined starts for the Sox and the Brew Crew, Tavarez had a 7.50 ERA.

Notable

The Astros say their ace, Roy Oswalt, who missed his last start with a strained left hip, will return to the mound Friday. . . . The Nationals have placed Elijah Dukes on the 15-day DL, three days after the outfielder tore knee tendons. . . . Rightfielder Jeff Francoeur, who was demoted to double A on Friday with a .234 batting average, rejoined Atlanta.