The Baltimore Orioles, in their hour of World Series distress, put in a call tonight to Dr. Small, Dr. Long Ball and the mighty Kiko Garcia.
The call was answered and the Pittsburgh Pirates fell, 8-4, in somber Three Rivers Stadium to give the Birds a two-games-to-one lead in this rain-plagued marathon of chills.
Southpaw Scott McGregor, called Dr. Small by teammates, pitched the most dogged nine-hitter imaginable in this 2-hour 51-minute contest, delayed 67 minutes by rain. The game did not end until 12:35 a.m.
"Thank God it rained," said O's catcher Rick Dempsey. "Scott was throwing too hard for his own good. That's why we fell behind, 3-0."
McGregor, who threw just 96 pitches, an amazing 78 of them strikes was razor sharp when he returned for the bottom of the third inning with his soft curves and change-ups.In every crisis, McGregor reached back for something less.
Bird Manager Earl Weaver, distressed by his team's .194 batting average in the two-game split in Baltimore, had said he would call the imaginary Dr. Long Ball for assistance.
That call was answered in the form of a lineup with nine right-handed batters that beat Buc southpaw John Candelaria. Four of those batters the Pirates has not seen in the starting lineup before, and they had four singles, two doubles, a triple and a homer.
Leading the Orioles' 13-hit assault was perhaps the most unlikely Oriole to rise to Series grandeur, shortstop Garcia. He summarized the 1979 season afterward by saying, "I had what you'd call an off-year."
But tonight he was "on" like few players in Series history. Garcia had a walk, two singles, a double, a bases-loaded triple, four RBI and a flawless night afield.
Only five previous players had reached base five times in a Series game, and his four hits tied 37 others for that Series record.
It was a night of redemption for Garcia who, this season, was the only regular in the American League to have more errors (27) than RBI (24).
If Garcia clobbered the Bucs at every opportunity, being at the heart of every Baltimore rally, then it was another of Dr. Long Ball's patented pills -- Bennie Ayala -- who struck the igniting blow of this game, and, perhaps, provided the turning point of this Series.
With the O's trailing Candelaria, 3-0, in the top of the third, Ayala crushed a full-count fast ball 400 feet over the center field wall to cut the deficit to 3-2. Naturally, Garcia scored ahead of him.
Perhaps Ayala's blast, consistent with his .523 slugging average during a trunctuated 84 at-bat season, punctured the threatening, overhanging sky. Or maybe it was just the heavens over Pennsylvania weeping for the change in Pirate fortunes.
From then on, everything went the way of the suddenly loose and free-swinging O's, who moments before had been as tight as a drum.
Three times in the late innings the Pirates blasted fly balls to the warning track, and each time Baltimore outfielders drifted to the walls to catch what had looked like two-run homers when they left the bat.
For Pittsburgh, it was another nightof watching their double play combination to Tim Foli and Phil Garner -- who were so splendid during the Buc's September pennant drive -- totally embarrass themselves.
In the five-run Oriole fourth that transformed a 3-2 disadvantage to a 7-3 lead, the Pirates gave the Birds six outs -- getting only one out on two perfect double play grounders. Foli botched one -- getting nobody out and completely opening the flood gates -- while Garner's wild throw botched another as a run scored.
"The way we're playing," said a disconsolate Garner, "it's two more games for them, and the cess pool for us."
"They're making all the plays," said Pirate catcher Steve Nicosia, "and we're not. Fundamentl plays are killing us. They deserved to win."
Many an omen had to worry the Pirates tonight. For the second time in this Series they lost to the Baltimore lefties -- Mike Flanagan (Dr. large) and McGregor (Dr. Small) -- that Oriole scouting reports said could handle the lefty Pirate bats.
The powerful Pirate have not knocked out a Baltimore pitcher yet, and have watched both the Doctors work their way through the late innings to victory.
And once again tonight, Dempsey held Pittsburgh -- with 180 steals this year -- without a theft.
While Baltimore has major weapons yet unheard from -- quality pitchers Steve Stone, Tim Stoddard and Sammy Stewart -- the Bucs have thrown their all into the fray.
"We came in here needing to win one game to get the Series back to Baltimore," said Rich Dauer, who, like Gary Roenicke, finally got a start tonight and came through with a hit. "We knew that if we won the first one, all the pressure suddenly shifted onto them.
"Now they have to win two in a row here, or else come back to Baltimore in tough shape."
That five-run Oriole burst will be replayed many times in Pirate minds before Saturday's 1 p.m. showdown between 15-game Baltimore winner Dennis Martinez and Pittsburgh's Jim Bibby.
After Dauer doubled and Dempsey singled put men at the corners, Weaver not only allowed the struggling McGregor to bat for himself, but let him swing away rather than bunt.
"I don't like the bunt too much." understated Weaver, whose club had a paltry 38 sacrifices this year, "especially if you think you might need seven or eight runs sometimes. If you play for one run, sometimes you die by one run."
So McGregor, a switch-hitter who looked polished at the plate all night and claims he outhit Kansas City's George Brett when they were on the same high school team, hit a grounder to Foli that had twin-killing written all over it.
But Foli butchered the ball, almost fell on his face, then could not nip the quick and hustling McGregor at first as Baltimore loaded the sacks.
No hero could be a great deal more unlikely than Garcia, who has battled throughout his three-year Oriole career to overcome a perceptible degree of nervousness under pressure. Tonight should be a great remedy.
His gutty turn at bat against Candelaria was a textbook war as Garcia fought off a tough two-strike, low and away pitch that had him fooled. On the next offering, he drilled a triple up the right-center field gap for three runs.
Only good befell the Orioles thereafter. Ken Singleton snapped out of a mild slump with two hits, one an RBI single scoring Garcia in that big fourth frame. Even Garcia, the man with a horseshoe in his hip pocket, was not finished. After Dempsey doubled in the seventh, he blooped a single to center for the Orioles' final insurance run.
Even before this affair, Weaver seemed to have a premonition of good fortune.
"I'm not dissatisfied with anything," he said, basking in the glow of that strange-looking lineup beginning with Garcia and Ayala. "How can I be upset when we're staying at the beautiful old William Penn Hotel?
"We don't know if the hotel was named after William Penn, of if he was named after the hotel," said Weaver, adding, "That's my line. I'm the guy that said that first."
And tonight, that was his lineup -- one that few of those 70 million viewers watching on prime time TV would have anticipated -- that shelled Pittsburgh and changed the feeling of this Series.
Finally, however, the little fellow on the mound who threw only 18 balls in nine innings, who ignored a questionable balk call that led to a first inning Pirates run, who showed not a trace of emotion as long Pirates drives died at the warning track, he as the steady force that quieted this crowd of 50,846 and stabilized the Orioles.
Dr. Small and Dr. Long Ball have, for one night, cured all the Baltimore Orioles' ills. Now it is the Pittsburgh Pirates who must take two aspirin, go to bed, and hope they feel better in the morning.