The Baltimore Orioles concluded a weekend of frolic by drubbing the Minnesota Twins, 7-2, today in Memorial Stadium, sweeping the three-game series.
Eddie Murray led a nine-hit assault on an old Los Angeles high school teammate, Darrell Jackson (7-6), and two relievers. Murray drove in four runs and three hits, one a first-inning home run off the left field foul pole.
His performance overshadowed Jim Palmer's 236th career victory, which tied him with Whitey Ford for 40th place on the all-time win list. Palmer (11-8) went six innings, giving up both Minnesota runs, before yielding to Tim Stoddard in the seventh. Stoddard picked up his 15th save.
The Orioles struck with two outs in the first inning. Ken Singleton reached base on shortstop Roy Smalley's throwing error and Murray lined Jackson's next pitch for his 17th home run, tops on the club.
Murray said, "Jackson thought he'd waste a pitch and throw it up and away, but it came in good, a slider, and he doesn't get too many of those up. He has a Guidry-like slider and makes you swing at a lot that end up in the dirt.
"I remember facing Darrell once in a junior league exhibition," Murray said. "But we played in different parks and were always arguing who was better."
Minnesota's Hosken Powell halved the Baltimore lead in the second with an opposite-field home run, his fourth of the season and third against the Orioles.
But Murray answered with an RBI single to center in the third, followed by a sacrifice fly by Benny Ayala.
The Birds knocked out Jackson in the fifth with singles by Mark Belanger and Rick Dempsey, a sacrifice fly by Singleton and Murray's fourth RBI on a single to left.
Baltimore added two runs in the seventh on Al Bumbry's single.
Murray has been hot since the All-Star break, hitting .357 with 16 RBI in 19 games. With few of the Orioles having spectacular seasons, Murray can't afford to slack off if the club figures to catch the Yankees, who lost to the Brewers today to have their lead reduced to 6-1/2 games over Baltimore.
"It would have been nice if Milwaukee could have held on to a couple of those late-game leads," Murray said. "But we've got the Yankees ourselves for two series soon.
"I'm hitting the ball real well right now, the pitching has been good and we're not making the errors we were early in the season, which lost games."
True. The Orioles now lead the league in fielding and are second in pitching. And they have the third best record in baseball at 58-44.
Manager Earl Weaver said Palmer, who is only three strikeouts short of 2,000, took himself out of the game after allowing a run on two hits in the seventh.
"I had wanted him to pitch to another hitter but he said he couldn't," Weaver said. "He just couldn't go another hitter; he said he was hurtin'."
Palmer's catcher, Dempsey, said the 34-year-old veteran was tiring in the 93-degree heat.
"His arm got a little dead," said the pitching coach, Ray Miller. "He was concerned about his next start. He'll probably have an injection in his shoulder and be okay."
Palmer was unavailable for comment after the game.
The win was the 10th in the last 12 games for the streaking Orioles, who ended the season series with the Twins 10-2.
They will open a three-game series Tuesday with the White Sox, who, Dempsey said, "have a magic potion for beating us."