Chicago left-hander Rich Wortham threw 5 1/3 innings of hitless baseball before Larry Harlow doubled as the White Sox defeated the Baltimore Orioles, 5-1. today for the Sox' first victory of the season and Wortham's fourth of his major league career.
Oriole batters got the ball past Chicago's infield only one time in this finale of an opening three-game series until Harlow's hit just inside the left-field foul line. Wortham yielded two more hits, both singles, before Lerrin LaGrow relieved him in the eighth.
Chicago pounded out 10 hits, including five in a three-run seventh inning to assure its second success over Baltimore in 14 tries stretching over two seasons.
"Wortham has exceptionally good stuff," said LaGrow, who pitched the final 1 2/3 innings to pick up a save. "He could turn out to be the best starter we have this year."
White Sox catcher Marv Foley added, "He was moving the ball around. Rich's slider was greet and his curve was great."
Wortham struck out seven and walked five in his 7 1/3 innings. He was 3-2 for the Sox last season and 6-0 this spring training.
Baltimore's Dennis Martinez started out nearly as effectively as Wortham, allowing two hits in the first four innings and retiring nine straight batters at one point.
But Martinez was put in the Hole early.
Ralph Garr opened the game by smacking a routine ground ball to third base-and Doug DeCinces overthrew first baseman Eddle Murray for his second error in 75 games. Garr reached second on the play; two outs later, Chet Lemon scored Garr with a single to center.
The Orioles went down in order in the first three innings. Speedy 5-foot-3 White Sox shortstop Harry Chappas fielded several chances in that span, including a gem of a backhanded stop on Rich Dauer's sizzling ground ball and perfect throw to first in the third inning.
Chicago picked up its second run in the fifth after first baseman Mike Squires led off with a double for the second hit off Martinez. Foley bunted Squires to second and Greg Pryor unloaded a single to score him.
In the home sixth, Wortham sandwiched a pair of walks around Harlow's double to load the bases. Ken Singleton hit a sacrifice fly to score Rick Dempsey and make it 2-1.
Singleton came up again in a bases-loaded, one-out situation in the eighth. But LaGrow, pitching to his first batter after relieving a tired Wortham, got the tall switch-hitter to hit into a double play initiated by Chappas.
By then the Sox had their four-run lead, courtesy of a three-run seventh inning. All three runs crossed with two out.
First, Pryor got a gift single when the Birds watched his dribbler down the third-base line stay fair by inches. Chappas walked on a low pitch and Garr smashed a broken-bat single to right field. That scored Pryor, and Chappas came in on Baltimore's second error of the season, an overthrow of home plate by Singleton. Claudell Washington's single drove in Garr to end scoring for the day.
"The umpire missed only one or two calls on pitches on day," said Oriole catcher Dempsey. "That's a pretty good day. But one they missed was that called fourth ball to Chappas. That should have been called a strike and we would have been out of the inning only down by one run."
Dempsey added that the principal difference between today's crew of umpires-substituting for striking regular major league umpires-was the difference in the strike zones.
"They called strikes a lot lower than the regular umps do," said Dempsey. "But they were consistent with the strike zone throughout the game."
Nine regular umpires picketed in front of Memorial Stadium while the crew inside-three experienced in college ball, the fourth in the International League-three times invoked difficult decisions.
Plate umpire Jim O'Connor and first-base official Dallas Parks each called a balk on Wortham. O'Connor added a rare citation on Oriole short-stop Mark Belanger, calling Belanger out when his held bat made contact with a bunt attempt after the ball had hit the ground in fair territory.