Oriole Manager Earl Weaver paid his respects to George Brett tonight -- and the result was an end to Baltimore's 10-game winning streak.
Weaver made the unusual move of walking Brett intentionally with runners at first and second to load the bases with two out in the ninth. Reliever Tim Stoddard then walked Amos Otis on a 3-2 pitch to force in Frank White with the winning run as Kansas City edged the Birds, 4-3.
The loss, coupled with the Yankees' 8-4 victory over Chicago, dropped Baltimore 3 1/2 games behind New York in the American League East Division.
The Royals increased their West Division lead to 13 1/2 games over Oakland, a 3-2 loser to Minnesota.
Weaver defended his stategy in the quiet Oriole locker room.
"Why did I walk him," he said. "I didn't want him to beat us with a base hit. You can't throw the ball over the plate or close to it or he is going to hit it. You can only get beat by one run, so why let George swing the bat? One thing I know: George Brett didn't beat us."
Weaver says he puts Brett "in the (Ted) Williams class."
Brett has the statistics to back up that kind of respect. The Royal third baseman is hitting .389 with 13 home runs and 77 runs batted in despite missing 35 with injuries. Tonight he stretched his latest hitting streak to 25 games with a single in the first, coming around with the Royal's first run, and tripled in the tying run in the fifth.
Oriole starter Scott McGregor (13-6) plunked White on the elbow to open the Royal ninth. McGregor retired the next two batters on fly balls, but U. L. Washington lined a single to center, White stopping at second.
Stoddard came on in relief and walked Brett intentionally to load the bases.
Dan Quisenberry collected his ninth victory in relief of Paul Splitorff.
The Orioles had a 12-0 streak going against left-handers and Splitorff was the last southpaw to beat them, 8-4, in Baltimore July 14. McGregor was the loser then, too, but had not been beaten since.
Brett, who has batted .454 while hitting safely in 32 of 33 games since the All-Star break, singled with two out in the first. The third baseman scored the game's first run as Otis doubled over the head of left fielder Benny Ayala.
McGregor walked John Wathan, but Darrell Porter lined out to first baseman Eddie Murray to end the inning.
The Royals made it 2-0 in the second. White doubled to left, again on a ball that might have been caught, with one out. McGregor got Rusty Torres to fly out to right, but Willie Wilson grounded a single to left, scoring White.
Rick Dempsey doubled to the 410-foot sign in right-center on the first pitch of the third inning. Lenn Sakata lined a single to center, but Dempsey had to stop at third after waiting to make sure Otis would not catch the ball.
Belanger split the middle with a line drive that tipped Splittorf's glove. That scored Dempsey with the Orioles' first run, Sakata stopping at second.
Sakata and Belanger moved up a base on a slick double steal before the Birds loaded the bases on Brett's wild throw after knocking down Rich Dauer's bullet to third.
Ken Singleton's single to right scored Sakata and Belanger with the tying and go-ahead runs, but the Oriole right fielder was out at second on a strong throw by Torres, who had bobbled the ball. Splittorff then stranded Dauer at third by getting Murray on a comebacker and Gary Roenicke on a drive that Wilson caught up with at the wall in left.
Meanwhile, McGregor settled down, limiting the Royals to one hit in the third inning and setting them down in order in the fourth.
But the home team tied the game, 3-3, in the fifth. Wilson, who leads the league in hits and runs, dropped a bunt toward third base and was halfway down the right field line when Dauer's throw reached Murray. One out later, Brett tripled to right, scoring Wilson. McGregor got out of further trouble by getting Otis on a called third strike, briefly debated by the Royal center fielder, and retiring Wathan on a grounder to Belanger.
Royal Manager Jim Frey, who spent 10 years as a coach under Weaver in Baltimore before taking the reins here this year, lifted Splittorff with one out in the ninth.
Murray had opened the ninth with a drive to right, but Torres caught up with the ball and made a nice, running catch.
Roenicke then signaled to left and Bumbry, who replaced Ayala in the batting order in the sixth, rolled a single to left after drawing in Brett by faking a bunt. That put runners on first and second and Splittorff was gone. f
Quisenberry, a protege of Pittsburg Pirate reliever Kent Tekulve, got pinch hitter Terry Crowley to ground into a fielder's choice and struck out pinch hitter Pat Kelly with an underhanded delivery that had to awaken bad memories of Tekulve's performance in the World Series last fall.