Dennis Martinez shut out the Detroit Tigers on three hits tonight and became the major leagues' first 14-game winner when Jim Dwyer's leadoff home run in the ninth inning provided a 1-0 victory that pumped new life into the Baltimore Orioles.
"It's nice to be breathing, but now it's got to be done again," said Manager Earl Weaver, who will take the Orioles to New York for a four-game series starting Thursday, still three games behind the leading Tigers.
"I hit a high fast ball, the same pitch I popped up the time before," said Dwyer, who blasted a 1-2 offering by right-hander Dan Petry into the right-field stands. "I don't think it was a strike. I think he wanted to get it in on me, like the time before, but it was a little out over the plate. Every time up, it seemed I had two strikes before I got a pitch I wanted to hit.
"Ten games left and we're still three out. We have to take them one at a time. It would have been a heart breaker to lose the way Dennis was pitching."
The homer was only the third for Dwyer, a .219 batter who played left field tonight because Weaver noted poor statistics by John Lowenstein against Petry. Dwyer homered Monday for the Orioles' only run in a 5-1 loss to Detroit and has a lifetime average of .333 against the Tigers.
Martinez, who was winning his ninth straight at Memorial Stadium over the last 13 months, is a logical candidate to follow Mike Flanagan and Steve Stone as the Orioles' third straight Cy Young Award winner.
"I have a better slider and curve, where I used to just throw the fast ball and change," said Martinez. "I'm working all four pitches and I can throw any one whenever I want to.
"I struck (Champ) Summers out on all four pitches tonight. Everything was working and it kept him off balance. All my pitches were working, but I had an especially good change-up."
Martinez walked seven and struck out six, with Summers a four-time victim. Only one runner on either team, Detroit's Alan Trammell, reached third base before Dwyer's homer and his activity in the sixth inning produced considerable controversy. After Trammell walked with one out, Kirk Gibson, trying to check his swing, blooped a single to center, Trammell racing to third.
Gibson stole second easily and catcher Dan Graham's throw bounced past shortstop Lenn Sakata, who was covering. Second baseman Rich Dauer backed up the play, however, and threw Trammell out at the plate. At least, Graham and umpire Larry McCoy were aware of a brush tag on Trammell's arm. Trammell claimed Graham missed and the television replay appeared to support his argument.
Another controversial call went against the Tigers in the fourth. After Gibson grounded a single through the middle for Detroit's first hit, Steve Kemp sent a grounder to Sakata, whose throw to Dauer forced Gibson. The former Michigan State football player rolled across the bag into Dauer and umpire Dave Phillips ruled interference, waving Kemp out as well, although Dauer's throw had no chance to double him.
The decision helped Martinez, because the next batter, Richie Hebner, stroked a one-hop drive off the right-field wall. Ken Singleton played it well, limiting Hebner to a single, and Martinez fanned Summers to end the inning.
"He (Phillips) said it was a rolling block; I haven't seen it called before, but that doesn't mean it didn't happen," said Detroit Manager Sparky Anderson. "Trammell says he didn't touch him at home, but on a bang-bang play like that I never have a bitch. It's pretty hard to call if it's that close."
The Tigers, who will have a day off Thursday before entertaining Milwaukee, saw their lead over second-place Boston reduced to a half-game despite a five-hit effort by Petry, who walked six and struck out four.
Although the Orioles' situation still seems hopeless, with a difficult schedule and three teams to leapfrog, Weaver said, "Remember 1970. We closed with 11 straight wins, took three in the playoffs and three more in the Series. We went into the fourth game of the Series with a 17-game winning streak. Who can say it won't happen again?"
Nobody was saying it, out loud at least, to the man whose mastery of past performance had put Dwyer in the lineup.