Reprinted from yesterday's late editions
The Baltimore Orioles won a baseball game for the sake of dignity Friday night, outlasting the Boston Red Sox, 3-2, in 11 innings to snap an eight-game losing streak.
From the moment O's starter Mike Flanagan toed the rubber and struck out the first of 13 Bosox, until Pat Kelly singled home Rich Dauer from second base with none out in the 11th, the Birds played with their beaks clenched.
Perhaps Baltimore won because its manager, Earl Weaver, was less sentimental. He watched Flanagan pitch one of the staunchest games in recent Oriole annals, fanning 13, walking no one, and surviving 10 Boston hits in the first nine innings.
But when the 10th began, Weaver had his bullpen ace, Don Stanhouse, the eventual winner, on the mound. Stanhouse fanned two to give the Sox 15 strikeouts for the night.
The Bosox, who lost for only the fourth time in 20 games, stuck with rotund magician Luis Tiant throughout.
Tiant allowed only four Bird hits in the regulation nine innings - the only painful one a two-run homer by Eddie Murray after a walk to Rich Dauer in the fourth.
But in extra innings, Tiant lived on borrowed time. After left fielder Jim Rice had misplayed a Rick Dempsey single into a double in the 10th, Tiant wriggled face. However, Dauer opened the 11th with a first-pitch two-bagger to left-center, his second double of the night, and the old Boston master had no more answers.
When Pat Kelly smashed a single down the right field line, the Fenway Park-size crowd of 23,034 had seen Tiant's 11-game winning streak since last August snapped. He is 7-1 this season.
Other Orioles could only share a corner of the spotlight last night with Flanagan, the sterling southpaw, who has mounted a 24-7 record since last June 27.
Flanagan opened the game by striking out Rick Burleson and Jerry Remy. The sweating, lanky-haired lefty never abandoned the deadly curves that he found were working early. Flanagan struck out every man in the mighty Sox order at least once, while whiffing Remy, George Scott, Dwight Evans and Bob Bailey twice each.
Flanagan equalled his career strikeout high, and came within one of the O's club record set by Bullet Bob Turley.
Only hot-swinging lefty Fred Lynn, hitting .321, solved Flanagan. In the second inning he based a high, hanging slider into the Boston bullpen for a 1-0 Boston lead. In the sixth he led off with a single to left (his third hit), took second on a wild pitch, and scored when Evans singled to left - a line drive that outfielder Andres Mora played poorly.
The O's, who still trail Boston by 11 1/2 games, gave Flanagan poor fielding support all night. Flanagan had to make the game's toughest and most spectacular play himself.
O's third baseman Doug DeCinces booted a potential inning-ending double-play ball in the fifth, kicking a Jim Rice two-hopper 15 feet in the air off his shin to load the bases.
The crowd booed knowing it has been an off year for the third baseman. DeCinces has only one more RBI than errors for the season, 13 vs. 12.
Flanagan battled Bosox cleanup man Carlton Fisk through 10 pitches. One Fisk smash to left was foul by two feet. "We call the foul line Pudge Parkway," explained Boston's Fred Lynn. "I think Pudge has had 10 homers and 15 doubles go foul by less than 10 feet this season."
Finally, Flanagan won the crucial confrontation. Fisk hit a hard-to-handle dribbler to the right side. Flanagan, who falls off the mound toward third, recovered, stabbed the ball in the webbing of his glove and fired a lefty jump pass to home for the force. Catcher Rick Dempsey relayed the perfect shoulder-high peg to first for a simple-as-one-two-three double play that nipped Fisk by inches.
The crowd gave Flanagan one of its largest ovations of the year for what was probably the evening's pivotal play.
"I've never seen a left-hander in my life who had the guts to throw me four straight curve balls inside in a spot like that," said Fisk, a dead pull hitter. "His curve was fantastic all night, but it's his nerve that impresses you."
"The kid has a helluva future with this club . . . if we can afford him," quipped Weaver, knowing that Flanagan's value has now moved up to the Ron Guidry and Frank Tanana level.
"I may have had the best curve ball of my life," Flanagan said, grinning. "Normally in 129 pitches I might throw 100 fast balls. Tonight - 80 percent hooks."
After the ninth inning, Weaver asked Flanagan how he felt, an odd question for a pitcher with an incredible walk-strikeout ratio of 0-1-13.
"Fine," said Flanagan.
"That's good, kid. You're out of the game," answered Weaver.
That hard-headed decision robbed this game of its appropriate Flanagan vs. Tiant mano-a-mano climax. But it may have saved a desperately needed Oriole victory - one that their pride demanded.