Jim Palmer scattered four hits to record his first victory in nearly a month tonight, guiding the red-hot Baltimore Orioles to a 3-1 triumph over the Cleveland Indians.
The right-hander, making only his third start of the month, convinced the visitors and the 20,209 onlookers at Memorial Stadium that he has shaken off the tendinitis that caused him to forego three of his last four scheduled starts.
Palmer allowed the Indians only one hit - a home run by third baseman Toby Harrah in the ninth - over the final six frames, to raise his record to 7-3.
"It looks like the master's back," said Manager Earl Weaver. "Jim Palmer is a master and he pitched a masterpiece.
"He didn't get behind many hitters and that's the way you have to pitch," he added.
The fans gave Palmer such an ovation after the game that he had to put his uniform on and go out to the field to tip his hat to the cheering crowd.
Baltimore notched its 50th victory of the season and 12th in its last 13 outings by sandwiching all of its hits and runs into two innings.
Palmer's late-inning effectiveness was aided by superb defensive plays by center fielder Gary Roenicke and much-maligned shortstop Kiko Garcia. Roenicke, moved from left field because of Al Bumbry's strained left knee in a base-running incident Tuesday, made a running, over-the-shoulder grab of Dunae Kuiper's fly to the warning track in the eighth to rob the second baseman of a possible double.
GARCIA, WHOSE SINGLE DROVE IN RICH DAUER WITH BALTIMORE'S FIRST RUN IN THE THIRD, DELIVERED A RUNNING,BACK-HANDED STAB OF BOBBY BONDS' HOT GROUNDER IN THE NINTH, THROWING BONDS OUT TO STOP A POSSIBLE INDIAN RALLY. THAT CAME JUST AFTER HARRAH HAD HOMERED INTO THE LEFT-FIELD BLEACHERS.
BONDS, WHO ENTERED TONIGHT'S CONTEST LEADING CLEVELAND'S REGULARS IN HITTING (.303), HAS GONE 0 FOR 11 IN THE THREE-GAME SERIES.
"WE'RE FORTUNATE TO CATCH BOBBY WHEN HE'S OFF," WEAVER SAID. "WHEN HE'S NOT HITTING IT'S GONNA BE TOUGH ON THE WHOLE BALL CLUB ESPECIALLY WITH NOBODY ELSE PICKING UP THE SLACK." CLEVELAND SUFFERED THROUGH ITS 10TH STRAIGHT SETBACK.
WEAVER SAID PALMER'S CONTROL WAS A LOT BETTER THAN IN HIS LAST START. "WHEN SOMEONE HAS TENDINITIS, YOU HAVE TO SWEAT IT OUT EVERY START," SAID WEAVER. "BUT HE DIDN'T COMPLAIN OF HIS ELBOW GETTING STIFF TONIGHT."
THE ORIOLES GOT ON THE BOARD IN THE THIRD, WITH LEADOFF SINGLES BY DAUER AND RICK DEMPSEY, PLUS GARCIA'S RBI single to the center. Designated hitter Pat Kelly then laid down a bunt that died after rolling 15 feet toward third base to load the bases with no outs. The crowd sensed a big inning but Indian starter Mike Paxton struck out Ken Singleton and Eddie Murray and got Doug DeCinces on a fly to left.
Kelly, who also stole a base. and Singleton each knocked in a run in the Baltimore seventh. CAPTION: Picture, Jim Palmer fires for Orioles in recording his seventh win.