The Baltimore Orioles were 0-34 when trailing after eight innings, and they were down a run in the bottom of the ninth when New York Mets closer Francisco Rodriguez entered the game.

K-Rod's 0.56 ERA was exquisite enough, but the righthander also had 16 saves in 17 chances - the exception coming by virtue of a dropped popup.

Twenty pitches later, the Orioles celebrated perhaps their most uplifting performance of the season.

Aubrey Huff drove in the winning run with a ninth-inning single, capping a two-run rally that carried Baltimore to a 5-4 victory last night.

Rodriguez, who last yielded an earned run on April 27, made no excuses after allowing five of the six batters he faced to reach base.

"It was awful. I didn't get the job done," he said. "I'm a human being. Unfortunately, days like this are going to happen."

Matt Wieters led off the ninth with a double and Nolan Reimold walked. Brian Roberts laid down a bunt, and the throw to third by catcher Omir Santos was too late to nail pinch-runner Felix Pie.

Rodriguez (1-2) then walked Adam Jones to force in a run, and after Nick Markakis struck out, Huff hit a liner to right - his second straight game-deciding hit. One night earlier, his seventh-inning homer broke a tie in Baltimore's 6-4 win.

Matt Albers (1-2) pitched the ninth and Robert Andino homered for the Orioles, who took two of three from the Mets and begin a three-game series with the Phillies tonight at Citizens Bank Park.

In other interleague games:

* At New York, after waiting out a 5 1/2-hour rain delay at the start, Washington's Craig Stammen (1-2) earned his first major league victory by beating the Yankees, 3-0. It was the first game without a homer at the new Yankee Stadium, which had yielded 119 home runs through 34 games.

* At Kansas City, Dan Haren (6-4) allowed two runs on seven hits in seven innings and Gerardo Parra drove in three runs as the Arizona Diamondbacks routed the Royals, 12-5.

* At Boston, Ronny Paulino and Dan Uggla homered in the second inning to lead Florida over the Red Sox, 2-1, in a game called off after five innings due to rain.

* At San Diego, Adrian Gonzalez matched his career high with four hits and scored the winning run in the 10th inning as the Padres beat Seattle, 4-3, to end their major league-record interleague losing streak at 13.

* At Los Angeles, Mark Loretta's pinch single drove in the go-ahead run in the seventh inning and the Dodgers held on to beat the Oakland Athletics, 3-2.

* At Denver, Clint Barmes hit a two-run homer in Colorado's 4-3 victory over Tampa Bay.

* At Chicago, Alfonso Soriano singled home the winning run in the ninth as the Cubs beat the visiting White Sox, 6-5.

* At Minneapolis, Nick Blackburn (6-2) tossed a six-hitter for his first career complete game as the Twins beat Pittsburgh, 5-1.

* At Arlington, Texas, Hunter Pence led off the eighth with a tiebreaking homer and the Houston Astros beat the Rangers, 5-3.

* At St. Louis, Rick Porcello (8-4) won for the seventh time in nine starts and the Detroit Tigers beat the Cardinals, 6-3.

In a National League game:

* At Cincinnati, Nate McLouth homered and drove in four runs as Atlanta beat the Reds, 7-0.

Noteworthy

* Detroit placed struggling lefthander Dontrelle Willis back on the 15-day disabled list with an anxiety disorder.

* St. Louis activated infielder Khalil Greene from a stint on the 15-day disabled list for social anxiety disorder.

* Arizona reliever Tom "Flash" Gordon threw 35 pitches in his first bullpen session since going on the disabled list May 4 with a pulled left hamstring.

* San Diego pitcher Chris Young will be placed on the 15-day disabled list today with inflammation in his right shoulder.

* Bill Clinton, Bill Cosby, Muhammad Ali, Sugar Ray Leonard, Oscar Robertson and Hank Aaron are among those who will participate in activities surrounding baseball's first regular-season Civil Rights Game - the Chicago White Sox at Cincinnati tomorrow night.

* Sentencing for former Oakland first baseman Troy Neel was postponed until July 17. He was scheduled to appear in a San Antonio federal court to face sentencing on charges of fleeing the country to avoid paying more than $700,000 in unpaid child support.

* Dusty Rhodes, who hit two home runs when the Giants won their last World Series title, sweeping the Indians in 1954, died of cardiopulmonary arrest in Las Vegas at age 82.

* Seattle placed second baseman Jose Lopez on the bereavement list. He is scheduled to return to Venezuela because his sister is ill. *