Mike Flanagan knew he was gone as soon as he saw Baltimore Manager Earl Weaver coming toward the mound.
"You can see it in Earl's eyes when he's going to take you out," Flanagan said.
Flanagan was working on a two-hit shutout today when Weaver gave him the hook after Baltimore's starting pitcher had walked leadoff batter Shooty Babitt and, an out later, Dwayne Murphy in the eighth. The move worked because Tim Stoddard registered his second save of the season as the Orioles held on to beat the Oakland A's, 3-1, before 18,329 at the Coliseum.
"Things came out all right, so I guess Earl did the correct thing," Flanagan said. " didn't mind. Those were two strong hitters coming up."
Stoddard, who has been wild this season, fell behind Cliff Johnson, the first batter he faced. Johnson singled home Babitt from second with the A's run.
But Tony Armas, the American League's RBI leader, grounded out. And after hitting Mike Heath with a pitch, Stoddard struck out Jeff Newman with three fast balls. The ninth was one-two-three and Stoddard had his first save since May 17 against Minnesota.
"I'm not missing by a whole lot," Stoddard said. "I'm throwing the ball hard. If I get some more work, I'll be all right. I didn't mind coming in in that situation. I'm trying to make a living that way."
Weaver didn't ask Flanagan (7-4) how he felt until after the game.
"He said he felt fine," Weaver said. "If he had told me that on the mound, I might have left him in. I had to make that move with Flanagan. He's left-handed and those are two tough right-handed hitters who were coming up. You've got to bring in the right-hander who throws the 90 mile an hour fast ball."
Before the game, Flanagan had urged his teammates "to keep trying, at least through today." Later, Flanagan said, "I wasn't referring to the (pending) strike, but just to the way we've been playing lately."
The Orioles hardly struck hard at A's pitcher Rick Langford, who went all the way to his seventh defeat against five victories. But they swatted him for 10 singles.
Three came in the top of the first and put Baltimore up, 1-0. Al Bumbry led off with the 1,000th hit of his career and came around on singles by Rich Dauer and Eddie Murray.
Mark Belanger singled in Terry Crowley to make it 2-0 in the fourth and Murray scored in the eighth on Dan Graham's sacrifice fly.
"Until we start hitting three-run homers," Weaver said, wistfully, "that's the way we're going to win. Pitching will keep us in it."
Jim Palmer, a loser Tuesday in Oakland's doubleheader sweep, was ejected in the middle of the second inning for continuing to argue a first-inning call. First base umpire Marty Springstead did the honors.
Palmer spent the rest of the game in the sun-washed right field bleachers. He sent a note to Springstead thanking him for the opportunity to improve his tan.