The Baltimore Orioles waylaid the error-prone Chicago White Sox tonight, 8-2, as Terry Crowley hit a fifth-inning grand slam and Steve Stone ran his record to 17-4.
In the process the Orioles closed to within six games of the front-running New York Yankees, who lost to Texas, 8-1. Even Baltimore perfectionist Earl Weaver was pleased.
"We're playing good, sound defensive baseball," the Oriole manager said. "We're getting good hitting and good pitching out of the bullpen. This team has been playing .681 baseball since the beginning of June. You can't get no better than that. We're playing the way the American League champions are supposed to play."
Weaver even shrugged off Al Bumbry's base running goof, which loomed large in the third inning when the O's. having closed to 2-1, had a chance to tie the game. Bumbry, perched on second base, forgot there were two outs and waited to see if Eddie Murray's hit would drop in before running. He should have scored easily.
"You're going to have some of those when you get those many men on base," Weaver said. "He just forgot how many outs there were. "Lack of concentration, that's all. When you only have one or two runners on that kind of thing can hurt you, but with all the guys we had on tonight . . ."
The Birds didn't get anyone on until one was out in the third. And by then they were down, 2-0, Lamar Johnson -- the Baltimore slayer -- having deposited a home run 25 rows deep into the left field seats off a Stone curve ball.
"It was a pretty good curve too," Stone said. "It was down around the knees but Lamar just got down and ripped it."
The portly Johnson his hit safely in 21 straight games against the Orioles, batting 20 for 38 with five home runs and 15 runs batted in.
Steve and I were going over Johnson in here (the clubhouse) before the game,' Weaver said. "Stone said, 'Lamar hasn't hit my curve ball in two years,' and the first Damn curve ball, Lamar hits it 9,000 miles into left field."
Johnson's smash gave the Chicagoans a 2-0 lead, which the Orioles halved in the third on Rich Dauer's centerfield single after Kiko Garcia and Bumbry had singled.
In the fifth the birds took wing. Bumbry singled again, went to second on an error and another error and a walk loaded the bases for Dauer's second run-scoring hit. The baltimore second baseman is batting more than .370 with men in scoring position.
The bases still were loaded when Crowley came to bat. The 33-year-old veteran took ball one, fouled off two pitches, then hit his fifth home run this season and third major league grand slam over the outstretched glove of right fielder Harold Baines.
"The pitch I hit for the slam was a change-up down and in," said Crowley, who came back out of the Oriole dugout and acknowledged a standing ovation from 20,265 with a double-fisted salute.
The homer made a loser of Lamarr Hoyt, who after four consecutive victorie victories in the major leagues, suffered his first defeat.
After the game, Stone still was trying to figure out how to retire Lamar Johnson, his former teammate in Chicago. Stone was hit hard by several of his old mates in the first two innings, prompting Weaver to make a visit to the mound.
"I told him to stop trying to make too good a pitch with the curve ball and throw it over the middle of the plate instead of to spots," Weaver said. "I wanted him to go back to the way he was pitching during the streak when Stone won 14 straight."