Opportunity kept knocking for Gary Roenicke and he finally knocked back today -- with a two-run homer in the eighth inning to carry the Baltimore Orioles over the Minnesota Twins, 3-1.
Before finding the range for his 23rd home run, Roenicke had come to bat three times with two men on base and advanced only one runner, Ken Singleton scoring on a fourth-inning double-play grounder.
So it was 1-1 when Singleton opened the eighth with a walk, completing a perfect two-hit, two-walk afternoon against right-hander Roger Erickson. After Eddie Murray struck out, Singleton advanced on a wild pitch.
Roenicke then drilled a 1-0 fastball into the first row of the left-field bleachers, about 15 feet inside the foul pole. It meant heroism about 18 hours late for Roenicke, whose bid for a game-winning homer Saturday night landed inches short as the final out instead.
"I had so many opportunities throughout the game, but I just wasn't feeling right," Roenicke said. "I was a little bit tight at the plate. I needed something to get me going again and I was fortunate that I got another chance.
"The whole key was that I got ahead of him. It was the first time he was behind me all day and he didn't want to pitch to Doug (DeCinces), so he came in with a good one."
Earlier, Roenicke had lofted a long fly to left, bounced into the double play and lined to right after fouling off two sacrifice bunt attempts.
"Big deal, he's got 30 base runners and he drives in one," kidded Frank Robinson, the coach in charge of keeping heads at proper size and keyed to a pennant race in which the Orioles are flying eight games in front.
Nobody was kidding lefty Scott McGregor, however. He continued his remarkable comeback from a sore pitching elbow with a route-going five-hit, no-walk performance.
In the 6 1/2 weeks since the All-Star Game, McGregor has posted an 8-1 record. He has walked six batters in 99 1/3 innings, never more than one in a game. Today McGregor struck out the side in the sixth, totaled six strikeouts and retired 16 straight batters from the third until the ninth.
"I struck out a few with the changeup, but what I was more concerned about was that I didn't walk anybody," McGregor said. "That way they don't get any cheap runs off me."
The run off McGregor, who had blanked Minnesota on Wednesday, came in the third on a single by Butch Wynegar, Ray Smalley's sacrifice and Ron Jackson's two-out bouncer over McGregor's glove into center.
The Orioles were snapping a two-game losing streak and McGregor noted, "I'm glad one of us is able to come up with a big game whenever there's a little slide. We want to keep our lead, so we don't have to worry about slumps near the finish."
With McGregor so dominant, the only real worry for the Orioles and their 18,074 fans, came in the ninth, when second baseman Rich Dauer was blasted by base runner John Castino as he completed a double-play pivot on Jackson's grounder. After treatment, however, Dauer stayed in for the final out.
"I jammed my jaw," Dauer said. "He slid early, but his back bounced up into my chin and he caught me pretty good."
Baltimore won its eight-game seven-day maxiseries with the Twins, 5-3. The four-game segment here attracted 109,497, the fifth 100,000-plus series for the Oriole year. In the club's previous 25 years, there were only eight such series.