ANAHEIM, Calif. -- The Baltimore Orioles fired manager Lee Mazzilli on Thursday with the team mired in an eight-game losing streak and still reeling from Rafael Palmeiro's positive drug test.
The Orioles have made bench coach Sam Perlozzo the interim manager for the remainder of the season.
The announcement was made just two hours before Baltimore's game at Anaheim, and three days after Palmeiro was suspended for taking steroids.
"It's not the kind of week that you want to have very often, that's for sure," Baltimore second baseman Brian Roberts said.
Coming into Thursday, the Orioles were 51-56 and 10 1/2 games behind first-place Boston in the AL East.
The Orioles finished 78-84 in 2004, Mazzilli's first season, and this year appeared on course to ending a run of seven straight losing seasons.
Baltimore got off a solid start and on April 23 gained sole possession of first place in the AL East, ahead of the defending champion Boston Red Sox and the New York Yankees.
The Orioles stayed on top through June 23. Baltimore was in second place, just one game back, on July 15 -- the day Palmeiro became the fourth player in baseball history to collect at least 3,000 hits and 500 homers.
But Baltimore then went on the skid that cost Mazzilli his job. From July 16 through Wednesday, the Orioles lost 16 of 18 -- including their last eight in a row -- to fall into fourth place, 10 1/2 games behind division-leading Boston.
"I don't think anybody really saw it coming," Roberts said. "But the way that we've played, I don't know that it blows anybody's doors off."
Baltimore general manager Jim Beattie said he told Mazzilli of the club's decision at the team hotel Thursday morning.
"It's a bittersweet day for me. We're all a part of him not being here," Perlozzo said. "It's not all his fault, but that's the game."