The Baltimore Orioles mastered the technique of "hit'em where they are" well enough tonight to begin the September stretch run the same way they ended August's dog days: coming out on the short end against the Minnesota Twins, 3-2.

Paul Hartzell and, naturally, reliever Mike Marshall combined to stop the Birds on seven hits. However, the duo poses no threat of winning a popularity contest among Oriole players and fans.

Two Hartzell brushback pitches against Baltimore slugger Ken Singleton precipitated a near-brawl in the third inning that resulted in Singleton's ejection after both dugouts and both bullpens emptied.

Marshall, who recorded his 28th save in his 80th appearance, was accused of doctoring the ball by Ray Miller, Oriole pitching coach. The reliever escaped from a bases-loaded, one-out jam in the eighth inning and another Oriole minithreat in the ninth with several strange-looking pitches that had the Orioles talking to home plate umpire Don Denkinger.

"We've complained to every umpire without any results," said Miller. "In every game Marshall has pitched against us, we get the balls out and they have big spots ground into them. The guy defaces the ball almost every pitch and nobody does anything about it."

Oriole Manager Earl Weaver was careful not to accuse Marshall of any chicanery. He was more concerned about the ejection of Singleton.

"We wound up short on Singleton, that's what happened," said the Oriole skipper about the third-inning incident. Singleton's replacements hit into two inning-ending double plays.

In the third, Singleton picked himself off the dirt after a Hartzell pitch sailed over his head and charged the mound. Twin catcher Butch Wynegar was in pursuit and grabbed Singleton before he could more than shove Hartzell.When the dust cleared Singleton had suffered his second ejection of the season.

"I've never seen Ken lose his temper in the five years he's been here," said Weaver. "The umpire should have taken that into consideration. He's never caused them any trouble. If he can stay around me for five years and not lose his temper, then he has a hell of a temperament."

Singleton explained that he could not let Hartzell get away clean after the second brushback.

"If he sees that you won't retaliate, then he'll keep doing it," Singleton said. "The main problem in this league is that the pitchers don't come to bat."

Hartzell countered that he was only attempting to go inside and then outside on Singleton.

The Orioles scored a run in the second inning after designated hitter Pat Kelly singled, stole second and scored on second baseman Billy Smith's hit to right.

Oriole starter Jim Palmer, who went the distance, losing his fifth game in 13 decision, shut down the visitors until the fifth. Doubles by Hoskin Powell and Danny Goodwin to the left field corner tied the score. Then Wynegar hit a two-out hopper toward Smith. The second baseman missed the ball completely on a running scoop attempt and Minnesota's second run scored.

"The ball to second should have been knocked down and kept in play," said Weaver.

Rick Dempsey and Mark Corey, who replaced Singleton, grounded into double plays in the fifth and sixth, respectively, to end the innings and strand one base runner apiece.

In the seventh, left fielder Dave Edwards led off with a solo home run against Palmer to make it 3-1. Doug DeClinces retaliated with a homer in the seventh for the game's final run.

The last Oriole hope died when Gary Roenicke's blast to left field was caught by Edwards against the wall to end the game with a man on first.