Reprinted from yesterday's late editions.
The rain disappeared but the Cleveland Indians did not. That proved to be good news for the Baltimore Orioles tonight. They survived an 84-minute rain delay and, with the aid of some shoddy fielding and an Indian inability to come up with hits at crucial moments, snapped their three-game losing streak with a 6-3 win.
The victory, which took four hours and six minutes from start to finish, moved the O's to within three games of the idle Boston Red Sox in the American League East.
It was also the fifth straight loss for the Indians, who managed to leave 10 men on base, hit into three double plays, give up two unearned runs in the first inning and waste a 5-for-5 night by shortstop Larvell Blanks.
"We didn't get any breaks at all when we lost three in California," Orioles manager Earl Weaver said. "So tonight we got a couple. We were due to get some sooner or later."
The Birds got their biggest break when a thunderstorm that hit Memorial Stadium after the first inning ended before the outfield became a quagmire.
They had already gotten one break when Indian pitcher Jim Bibby bobbled Lee May's dribber with one out and men on first and second in the first inning, then threw the ball away to give the Orioles a 2-0 lead.
Moments later, the hot sticky evening turned into a wet one and both clubs were forced to cool their heels in the dugout and clubhouse.
"I know exactly what the attendance was tonight," Ken Singleton said later (it was 11,431) 'cause I counted every damn one of them during the break. It seemed like forever."
It wasn't long enough for Cleveland, however. Even though it began to rain lightly shortly after play was resumed, it never seriously threatened again. Thus, several Indian stalling tactics were for naught.
In the meantime, Bibby, the 6-foot-5, 230-pounder who has three basic pitches - fast, faster and fastest - was having problems. He hit a batter, walked another, threw two wild pitches and surrendered three solid hits in the third, the key blow being a double off the wall by Eddie Murray, and the O's and Mike Flanagen were in the driver's seat, 5-0. Andres Mora's homer provided the sixth run in the sixth.
But the rain delay, the 92-degree heat and Cleveland's eight right-handed hitters wore Flanagan down. He surrendered two runs and four hits in the fifth and was lifted with men on second and third and Andre Thornton, an 18-home run man, at the plate with the tying run.
"If it's a single hitter, maybe I leave Mike in another batter," Weaver said. "But Thorton can tie the game. Mike was having trouble with their righthand bats right from the start. His stuff looked good but they were hittin' it. It worked out good for us but not for Mike."
Dennis Martinez came on when Flanagan was one out short of the five innings necessary to receive a win. He walked Thornton, but then got Rico Carty to line out to center.
"I felt good," said the 23-year-old Martinez, who went the rest of the way to raise his record to 10-6. "I was real strong. That's why I got the ball up when I came in. I was too strong."
Martinez' strenght almost got him out of the game in the sixth. He loaded the bases with two-out on a Bill Metton double, and two walks. "I was going one more batter," Weaver said, "and then he wasa gone."
He never left Paul Dade, the Tribe's leading hitter with a .303 average, popped a 3-2 fast ball down the rightfield line and Lee May ran it down in foul ground. The Indian never threatened again.