The Baltimore Orioles maintained the status quo tonight.When the festivities with the California Angels began, the Orioles were half a game behind the New York Yankees. After 13 runs and 26 hits, they still were half a game behind the New York Yankees.

Even so, the Orioles felt considerably better about themselves than they did two days ago, after losing two games in Seattle when they should have leapfrogged into first place.

"Was it a laugher?" said Ken Singleton, who retired tonight after delivering the game-winning hit in the bottom of the fourth inning, when the score still was 3-2. "Yeah, it was funny. I was inside listening to it and I was laughing."

The Orioles set a club record for hits in a game (26), tied the club record for hits in an inning (nine), tied another for doubles in a game (eight) and broke the California Angels' record for hits allowed in a game (22).

They also won, 13-8.

Jim Palmer, the winning pitcher (14-9), lasted 6 1/3 innings, giving up 11 hits and six runs.

Manager Earl Weaver, who soon will be taking a forced three-day vacation, courtesy of American League President Lee MacPhail (something about a temper tantrum Weaver staged during the last home stand with the Yankees), said, "After a game like that, I need a vacation.

"Those are the kind that scare me," Weaver continued. "You got everything you need, but they keep chipping away, and you never know if you've got enough. Everyone has a tendency to let up. It's only human. You can't go out for 162 games and grunt on every pitch. It's 13-3 and you get a little relaxed. It's a legitimate reason to relax. There won't be too many times this season that we can. Then all of a sudden, it's 13-8 . . ."

Weaver shook his head. "I'm going to go shuck some corn," he said.

The game began innocently enough. Palmer, who had to leave the game in his last start against Oakland after five innings because of a bad back, gave up a run in the first inning, Rod Carew and Dan Ford singled, and Don Baylor gave the kind of "you hit me" performance at the plate that usually demands an encore. Incredulous, Palmer walked designated hitter Jason Thompson to force in a run.

The Orioles took the lead, 2-1, in the bottom of the first. Rich Dauer, who was four for six, singled to left, went to second on Singleton's bouncer and scored on Eddie Murray's double and scored on Eddie Murray's double to left. Murray scored on Gary Roenicke's bloop single to center. that was Roenicke's only cheap hit on a night he had three doubles and two RBI.

The Angels tried to stay in the game. They scored another run off Palmer in the top of the second to make things temporarily interesting and temporarily tied, 2-2. But the Orioles thawed out Angel starter and loser Dave Frost in the bottom of the third with three runs.

The Angels had a collective ERA of 5:83 against the Orioles before the game began. No doubt, they won't bother to recompute it. The Orioles scored six runs in the fourth inning, on nine hits, tying the record set against the Yankees in 1969.

Al Bumbry (23 for 59 in his last 13 games) started the show with a single to right and scored on Dauer's double to left. Dauer scored on Singleton's second hit of the night, "the one that wasn't a cheapie," he said, to make the score 7-3.

Murray tried to earn a halo by bouncing into a double play and giving the Angels a break. But, enough was not enough.

Designated hitter Terry Crowley, who did not start and still went three for five (he now is hitting .315), doubled and Roenicke doubled. Rick Dempsey singled, Lenn Sakata singled, Kiko Garcia singled and Bumbry singled again. When it as over, the score was 11-3. An inning later, it was 13-3.

"I've never played on a night that was more miserable," Dempsey said. "It was so muggy. I think that and the six runs just took the heart out of them."

"It's pretty hard not to," Dempsey said. "Everytime they put up the Yankee score, the fans respond . . . and so do we."

One inevitable response in a game such as this is to get "sloppy," Dempsey said. Which is what the Orioles did. Palmer gave up one run in the fifth, on Dan Ford's home run. and three in the seventh, before being replaced by Sammy Stewart.

"He pitched well up to the fifth inning," Dempsey said, "Then he seemed to get too lackadaisical and started to throw the ball down the middle. If we hadn't had all those runs, you would say it was not a very good game for Jim. But it was hard to concentrate."

Palmer threw 122 pitches, 51 in the first two innings, "and had problems with location all night," according to the pitching coach, Ray Miller. "But he had a good fast ball and that's a good sign. He just is not physically at the point where he can reach down when he needs to."

Stewart had to reach down to find the resolve to take the end of the game seriously. The Angels made the score 13-8 before he found a properly sober demeanor.

"It was a hard game to pitch because of the score and the time change back from the West Coast," he said. "I had to pump myself up."