The Baltimore Orioles, root8tooting their kazoos and rollicking through what is supposed to be their Death Valley road trip of their season, licked Milwaukee, 2-1, tonight in a thrilling pitching-and-power victory emblematic of their '79 style.
As usual, the Birds chose their heroes for this night on national TV from among their lesser known fowl. Al Bumbry hit a two-run homer in the sixth off Jim Slaton. Tippy Matrtinez got the final heart-stopping fly out by throwing one pitch to qbrewer menace Cecil Cooper with the tying run on first base.
Above all, Steve Stone, the $200,000- a-year free agent righty who is beginning to look underpaid by the Orioles, had his night in the sun with 82 3 innings of brilliant one-hit pitching -- a mixture of curves, fork balls and hairbreadth luck.
It was, however, the mound-conference brain trust of Stone and Manager Earl Weaver who may have salvaged this game that meant a sixgame lead over Boston and 71 2 over Milwaukee in the American League East
Few managers would hook a starter who had a one-hitter going, even if that hit was Charlie Moore's 400- foot third-inning homer. And fewer pitchers would be judicious enough to admit in a crisis that, "i'm hanging my curve. Maybe you better get Tippy."
With two out and that man on first -- Don Money, who walked on a 3-2 pitch -- in the bottom of the ninth, Milwaukee Manager George Bamberger conceded, "I had a feeling if Earl left Stone in, Cooper would hit a homer to win it for us. Cecil had almost hit two balls out earlier. But I also knew that darn Earl. I knew he'd do what was right. Even if he knew the whole country was second-guessing him."
So, a game that, in Brawer General Manager Harry Dalton's words, "was like two giants wrestling," ended on one Martinez fast ball.
"the little genius does it again," said jubilant Oriole Ken Singleton.
"howard Cosell better not have been ripping Earl for yanking Stony, 'cause Earl'll go right up and punch Howard in the knee. Earl's our Harry Truman: the buck stops with him."
Weaver, who spent the pregame hours tooting on a Blue Brew Crew Kazoo given him by Bambarger, would, of course, take no credit.
"it's nice to have an honest pitcher with brains," said Weaver. "stone knows i don't think it's a sin and a crime to get tired. I know he's not quitting in a tough spot. He just told me the truth. He said, 'well, they're startin' to hang.'"
Perhaps Stone knew how precariously his one-hitter had teetered on the brink of disaster all night.
"once Sixto (Lezcano) and the boys start comin' down on Stone's curves, it's going to be real hot at third," third baseman Doug DeCinces said before the game.
How right DeCinces was. He gobbled up seven smashes jerked his way by the Brewer sluggers, including a Lezcano liner that he had to leap for in the seventh to steal a double.
It was a stiff fight-to-left field cross-wind, however, that helped Stone most.
In the seventh, sandwiched around Lezcano's line out, Cooper and Ben Oglivile hit titanic flies that would surely have been homers on a still night. Both were caught in right at the top fence.
"i didn't have my wind sock with me to measure velocity," jocked Singleton, "but I know the wind kept 'em both in."
In fact, Bumbry's opposite-field flyball homer to left, just over the 362- foot sign on a 2-0 fast ball, was wafted on its way by that same Oriole-loving breeze.
In this battle of big boys, the winds of fortune were an appropriate margin of difference. The Birds and Brewers each had won exactly 31 of their last 43 games before tonight and entered the fray with 10 of 12 and 14 of 17 streaks, respectively.
Each manager, naturally, spent the day trying to praise the other's club to the skies and thus burden it with a favorite's burden.
"toot, toot," went Weaver, blowing on Bamberger's peace offering."you got to be extra careful with George . When Bamberger's pats you on the back, he's just looking for the softest place to stick the knife."
Perhaps Weaver was in a needling mood because Bamberger, as soon as he heard Jim Palmer was on the disabled list, had sent Palmer a Bambi's Bombers t-shirt inscribed "To my friend, Jim. from George"
Would Bamberger, whose locker was next to Palmer's for years in Baltimore, like to see Gentleman Jim as a Brewer?
"if Palmer starts wearing that shirt around the clubhouse when we get back," grumbled Weaver, "I may have to invent a new rule."
This was the night for the right-hander who has taken Palmer's place in the rotation -- Stone, who pitched two straight complete-game wins before this masterpiece since discovering the charms of a fork ball.
This evening, Stone blended 14 fork balls with 55 curves in his 111 pitches, constantly keeping the brewers lunging.