The Chicago White Sox gave the Orioles a little going-away present tonight in the form of a 2-1 victory, their sixth in a row, giving Baltimore a sweep of their three-game Memorial Stadium series.
An error and a misplay by losing pitcher Steve Trout (6-12) in the sixth inning led to Baltimore's two unearned runs and sent the winners into a six-game road set with division leaders New York and Kansas City with their momentum intact.
The benefactor of the Chicago miscues was Baltimore's Scott McGregon (13-5), who won his 12th game in his last 15 decisions. McGregor pitched a complete game, scattering six hits, striking out four and walking two.The only Chicago run came on a line drive home run by Harold Baines in the third inning.
"I was struggling for a while in the early innings," said McGregor, who threw only seven curve balls the entire game. "I was giving up a lot of foul-ball home runs so I knew after a while I was going okay."
Trout, the son of the late Paul (Dizzy) Trout, former Baltimore pitcher, allowed only seven hits in his eight innings. The hard-luck left-hander has gotten little offensive support from his teammates all season. Despite his losses, his ERA is an impressive 3.60.
"You can't pitch any better than that." said Oriole Manager Earl Weaver. "We played well and in one inning they had a little trouble covering first base. But the kid pitched just excellent."
"Trout's got great stuff," said Ray Miller. Baltimore's pitching coach.
"He's going to be a good pitcher in this league for a long time. You hate to say it, but tonight he lost his own game on fundamentals."
Mike Garcia started the sixth inning with a routine ground ball to first baseman Lamar Johnson, who flipped the ball to Trout, who was covering first. Trout dropped the ball, stumbled over the bag and tumbled 10 feet down the first base line as Garcia scampered to second.
On the next play Rich Dauer hit another grounder to Johnson in almost the same spot on the infield. This time, however, Trout didn't move off the mound to cover first and Dauer was credited with a hit -- at the time, only the second off Trout.
Garcia scored the first run on Al Bumbry's double play ground ball and Ken Singleton doubled home Rick Dempsey, who had singled to center.
Singleton's run-scoring hit was his 12th game-winner of the season, second in the league only to Texas's Al Oliver with 13.
But the story of this game was Chicago's poor fielding -- most of them had dressed and left the park in record time. They were credited with only one error, but they were seemingly always positioned in the wrong spots and, with the exception of third baseman Greg Pryor, never came up with a clutch play when Trout needed one.
Chicago is 8-19 since the All-Star break after getting off to a surprisingly good start. Much of the demise can be directly traced to bad fielding. In that department the White Sox are last in the American League. Their 123 errors in just 105 games put them within a few gaffes of the league record of 192 errors, held by the 1961 Los Angeles Angels.
The Orioles, on the other hand, are first in the league defensively and sparkled with several plays behind McGregor tonight.
Especially sharp with Doug DeCinces, he of the sore back, who took extra-base hits away from Kevin Bell and Jim Morrison with leaping, snagging, sprawling plays at third base. The 21,750 fans showed their appreciation after he made what appeared to be an impossible grab on Morrison's rising shot in the eighth inning.
"The key to playing third is to be ready to catch the ball as it is hit," DeCinces said. "That one (Morrison's) stung, but I'll take the sting any time."