The Baltimore Orioles rocked three Cleveland pitchers for seven doubles, two home runs and 17 hits tonight in a 14-5 victory over the Indians before 8,193 fans at Memorial Stadium.
More important, Orioles Dan Graham and Doug DeCinces appeared to break out of hitting slumps as Baltimore moved to within 1 1/2 games of first-place Detroit. The Tigers lost to Boston, 5-3, tonight.
Graham was hitless in his last 24 at bats going into tonight's game with only one hit in baseball's second season. Tonight he had two doubles and could be ready to repeat his second-half performance of a year ago.
"He has to do it," said Oriole Manager Earl Weaver. "Sooner or later he's got to start hitting. He did it last year. He's got to come back."
What Graham did a year ago was hit .311 over the second half of the season, with 11 home runs and 43 RBI. He entered tonight's game at .147 with eight RBI and three extra-base hits in 115 plate appearances.
"It's been six years since I've had an 0-for-20 slump like this," said Graham. "Maybe I'm finally out of it. I'll have to wait and see.
"I saw the ball pretty good tonight. I've been swinging and missing the same pitches for the past three months. Tonight I hit it."
Graham's double to the right field fence in the first keyed a four-run outburst. The Indians had scored once in the first on Graham's passed ball on a third-strike, third-out swing by Andre Thornton.
"It was a curve ball up and out of the strike zone. I saw the ball good and tomahawked it," said Graham of his first hit. "If I swing and miss that pitch, Earl is going to go nuts because it's out of the strike zone."
Oriole pitcher Scott McGregor yielded 11 hits to improve his team-best record to 10-3. The Orioles held a comfortable margin going into the final innings, when Bo Diaz and Rich Manning hit home runs for the Indians.
"I didn't have much tonight, I had no curve at all," said McGregor. "But I had a pretty good one the last few starts and wasn't winning. Tonight I had a pretty good change, but as the game went on, even that floated. It was a struggle."
Indian pitcher Len Barker also struggled, holding on for five innings. The AL strikeout king a year ago, who pitched a perfect game against the Blue Jays earlier this season, struck out only three Orioles tonight. He allowed 10 hits, including a homer to Doug DeCinces and three doubles.
DeCinces' homer, his 12th, was one of three hits for the Oriole third baseman, who had gone three for 25 in his last seven games.
When Eddie Murray hit his 16th homer with two men on in the seventh, the Orioles had hit nine home runs in their last five games.
DeCinces was one of four Orioles who could have put the Birds in the record book for grand slams. He and pinch hitter Gary Roenicke came up with the bases loaded in the sixth. Had either connected, the Birds would have hit three in three consecutive games, tying a major league record set by Milwaukee in 1978.
But DeCinces singled to deep short to score Al Bumbry and Roenicke popped weakly to second. The Orioles had to settle for a 7-2 lead.
In the seventh, Indian reliever Sid Monge walked Bumbry with the bases loaded before Jim Dwyer sent Manning to the right center field wall for a sacrifice fly. One out later, Murray homered with two on for a five-run inning and a 12-2 lead.
"In the back of your mind you're thinking about hitting that slam," admitted DeCinces. "But I'm happy to have gotten three hits. I was scheduled for early BP (batting practice), but the field was covered so I made some small adjustments in my swing."
One Oriole still having problems is Ken Singleton. The switch-hitting designated hitter singled in the first after going four for 37 in his last 12 games, but then was retired four times. He struck out twice, the first marking his 1,000th lifetime.