Dough DeCinces' three-run home run in the seventh inning gave Baltimore with a gutsy 12-9 come-from-bdhind victory over Boston to keep the Orioles' flickering hopes for the Eastern Division pennant alive before a delirious crowd of 21,436 tonight at Memorial Stadium.
However, the inspriring victory didn't gain them an inch in the standings as the Yankees defeated Cleveland, 7-3, to maintain their five-game lead. Both the Yankees and the Orioles have 10 games left to play. New York's magic number -- any combination of Yankee victories and Oriole losses that would clinch the division -- is six.
The O's trailed, 7-1, in the third inning before rallying behind Terry Crowley's two home runs to gain a 9-9 tie in the fourth inning.
The game was not pretty, but at this stage of the year, Baltimore will take what it can get. With one out in the Oriole seventh, Crowley singled sharply to right field. Dan Graham followed with another hit to right to up DeCinces. On a night when everyone and his sister were getting hits, the Oriole third baseman had fanned twice and drawn a walk. At that point he was the only player in the Oriole lineup without a hit.
This time DeCinces caught a Mike Torrez fast ball and lined it halfway up the left field bleachers for the gamewinner.
"There were some crazy plays in these three games," said DeCinces in the Oriole locker room. "Each game seemed to go on and on. It was good to come back and tie the game and get (Steve) Stone off the hook, because he's pitched so well for us this year.
We know each loss will take its toll on us now," DeCinces said. "We want to win every game the rest of the way. We'd rather have them (New York) win it rather than us lose it."
The Red Sox threatened to keep the folks here all night when they put two men on base to open the eighth inning, but Tim Stoddard, who relieved Tippy Martinez at the start of the inning, got Dave stapleton to fly to center and forced Carlton Fisk to bounce into a double play. Stoddard, who picked up his 25th save of the year, retired the Red Sox one-two-three in the 9th inning.
Martinez, who came in for Dave Ford in the fourth inning, went 3 2/3 innings, yielding only two hits and walking one batter.
As they did in Tuesday's game, the Red Sox scored three runs in the first inning. Stone, destined to last just 40 pitches tonight, gave up three hits, walked two and hit a batter in the opening inning. A Carlton Fisk single, a Jim Rice double to right field, a bases-loaded walk to Garry Hancock and Stone's nailing of Chico Walker with a fast ball highlighted the rally.
Baltimore got a run back in the bottom half of the first inning when Eddie Murray drove home Al Bumbry with a single.
Stone retired the first two Red Sox batters in the second inning before the roof fell in. Fisk and Rice hit back-to-back singles before Perez drilled a Stone pitch halfway up the left field bleachers, making it 6-1. That finished Stone (24-7) who was trying to extablish a club mark or 25 victories in a season.
Boston increased its lead to 7-1, picking up a run in the third inning. But the Birds, feeling slightly embarrassed, came streaking back. Red Sox right-hander Steve Renko had appeared to have settled down. It was an illusion; the Orioles quickly sent him to the showers. After Bumbry flied to left, the next five Oriole batters hit safely. After RBI singles by Ken Singleton and Pat Kelly cut the dificit to 7-3, Red Sox Manager Don Zimmer strolled out to the mound to talk to his pitcher. He decided to leave Renko in.
That turned out to be a mistake. Crowley connected on a 2-0 pitch and sent it over the right field fence to bring Baltimore within 7-6.
Torrez relieved Renko but Baltimore Quickly loaded the bases. Bumbry then flied out to center field and Dan Graham scored to tie the game at 7-7.
Perez made it 9-7 with another home run, this one off Dan Ford to center, with Fisk on base in the fourth inning.
Not to be outdone, Crowley hit an instant replay of his first homer with Kelly aboard to bring the O's even again at 9-9 after four innings.