It was expected to be a pitcher's deal at Memorial Stadium tonight with the fabulous fast-balling Nolan Ryan against the excellent control and pitch selection of Sammy Stewart.
But the Baltimore Orioles rookie dueled alone most of the game and his teammates battered Ryan for six runs, four earned, in only four innings, walloping the California Angels, 10-2, on 13 hits. Stewart, yanked from the Bullpen to replace the disabled Jim Palmer, yielded only two runs and six hits in eight innings, posting his sixth win against three losses in his third start.
It was the largest night crowd, 51-381, in the history of the Orioles, and many fans were wearing the orange Oriole uniform tops they received on team jersey night.
Stewart was supported most robustly by Eddie Murray, who knocked in three nuns with a homer and two singles and John Lowenstein, who slammed a bases-loaded triple.
"I didn't think they (his teammates) would get me six runs against Nolan in a game," said Stewart. "A good outling like this one might mean more starting assignments, but I can't tell yet. I am starting again in three days."
By sweeping the final three games of the series, the Birds moved 3 1/2 games ahead of the Boston in the AL East.
The beginning looked bleak for Stewart and the Birds. When the Orioles came to bat in the first inning it was 7:45 twilight, just the time of evening when the bullets launched from Ryan's magnum right arm are the hardest to see.
Ryan struck out the first three Orioles, Mark Belanger, Pat Kelly and Ken Singleton, with only one ball being even fouled off.
But those were Ryan's last shining moments. Night had fallen when Murray popped up to start the second. Ryan then walked John Lowenstein and gave up line drive singles to Lee May and Rich Dauer and the Orioles jumped ahead, 2-0.
The Birds nicked Ryan for two unearned runs in the third and sent himm to the showers with two in the fifth.
Pat Kelly doubled, Singleton got a hit to left, Murray came close to decapitating Ryan with a line drive, scoring Kelly, and Lowenstein walked to fill the bases.Lee May grounded into a double play, bringing Singleton home with the Orioles's sixth run.
The Angels, winners of 14 of their last 19, got on the scoreboard in the seventh on singles to center by Jim Anderson and Dickie Thon, a walk to pinch hitter Larry Harlow and an opposite-field sacrifice fly by carney Lansford.
They added a run on Willie Mays Aiken's 16th home run, a high, looping drive just inside the right field foul pole, in the eighth.
After Murray homered in the seventh, Belanger singled to open the eighth, pinch hitter Al Bumbry doubled down the left field line and reliever Ralph Botting intentionally walked Murray.
Lowenstein, who had walked three times and struck out, slashed an inside, belt-high fastball into the gap in right-center, clearing the bases and giving the O's their final runs.
Lowenstein said he was glad to see Ryan depart, but added, "Nolan's wildness s contributed to some of our success, but it usually does whemn he looses. He maintains almost the same velocity the entire game."
Stewart gave way to Tim Stoddard and Don Stanhouse in the ninth after throwing 130 pitches.
"I got a little tired in the eighth, but my fastball was still good," Stewart said. CAPTION: Picture, Sammy Stewart