Baltimore's Ken Singleton knocked in all three runs with a two-run homer and a double, helping Oriole left-hander Mike Flanagan to his fifth shutout and league-leading 17th win over the Texas Rangers, 3-0, tonight.
Flanagan struck out seven and yielded only three hits in pitching his 13th complete game of the season. He gave up singles to John Ellis, Mickey Rivers and Bump Wills.
The victory pushed the Orioles' American League East margin to five games over the Boston Red Sox who lost to the Minnesota Twins, 10-5.
The loser was 21-year-old rookie right-hander Brian Allard (1-2) who gave up only six hits and pitched his first complete game in three starts for Texas since he was called up from Tucson on Aug. 5.
Singleton gave Flanagan and the Orioles all the runs they needed in the first inning when he blasted a prodigious home run into the left center field bullpen after Mark Belanger had singled to center.
After Belanger had walked in the third, Singleton slammed an Allard slider nearly 400 feet over the wall in right center, but was robbed of a second homer when Ranger center-fielder Mickey Rivers stuck his glove above the wall and knocked the ball back into play. Belanger scored the third run easily and Singleton stopped at second as the 21,042 fans went beserk and began shouting "MVP . . . MVP" as Singleton cruised into second.
"I thought they were screaming ABC," said Manager Earl Weaver, referring to Monday night baseball telecast, the first at home for the first-place Orioles this year.
Singleton said it's always nice to perform well on national TV and added, "It seems like ABC doesn't really want to come here. They've been spoiled by New York for three years now. I just hope they (ABC) spend a week or two here in October for the World Series."
Fourteen of Singleton's 31 home runs this season have come in games that Flanagan has started. Singleton explained, "I've just been hitting them (home runs every fourth day and Mike's been out there every fourth day. It's just coincidence. It is kind of strange though. Everybody expects me to do it now."
Everybody is beginning to expect Flanagan to pitch superbly every fourth day -- like he did tonight. He has replaced the injured Jim Palmer as the Oriole stopper and is baseball's hottest pitcher, winning seven of his last eight games. Even his last loss on Aug. 5 to the Yankees in New York was a 3-2, complete game effort. His 146 strikeouts rank him third in the league behind Nolan Ryan and Ron Guidry. Baltimore fans are starting to whisper "Cy Young" after each Flanagan masterpiece.
"The Cy Young is a goal you want, but it's really an afterthought," said the 27-year-old Flanagan. He did admit that the Cy Young voting could come down to himself, Tommy John and Dennis Eckersly.
"I had a good night because I threw a lot of changeups," Flanagan continued. "I didn't have a changeup the last time I pitched against the Rangers so I wanted to establish early in the game.
"I just didn't have enough energy to throw many fast balls," he said, "I just didn't have the strength tonight. I feel I'm a better pitcher because of it, though, because now I have another good pitch. Before I began throwing it six games ago I was primarily a fast ball-curve ball pitcher."
After retiring 12 of the first 14 Rangers tonight, the Rangers finally reached Flanagan for their first hit in the fifth inning when John Ellis led off with a dribbler through the middle. Rivers got the second Ranger hit an inning later on a bloop double that dropped between Singleton and second baseman Rich Dauer.
Allard settled down after Singleton's second run-producing hit and allowed only two hits to the next 17 batters -- a single and double to Gary Roenicke.
Singleton backed up Flanagan for the final time in the ninth inning -- this time with a fielding gem off a tailing line drive from Buddy Bell who led off the inning.
The Orioles improved this homestand record to 6-6 and will send Dennis Martinez (14-9) against Steve Comer (12-8) Tuesday night. The 12 dates on this homestand have attracted a record 316,899. The previous record was 301,122 for a 16-game stand in 1957.