The Baltimore Orioles proved tonight that the New York Yankees aren't the only team that lives by the long ball.
The Orioles had home runs by Gary Roenicke and Cal Ripken and two doubles by John Lowenstein among 14 hits as they won their sixth game in their last seven, 9-4, in the first meeting of the two teams this season. The opener of the three-game series drew a crowd of 32,515.
New York has lost six of its last seven games.
The Orioles also benefited from sturdy pitching performances by Dennis Martinez, who won his 13th game in a row at Memorial Stadium, and Tippy Martinez, who pitched three innings of shutout relief in earning his fifth save.
"I remember watching the Yankees and thinking how tremendous their power has always been," said Ripken, whose first-inning homer, coming immediately after Roenicke's three-run blow, was his fifth of the year. Ripken's two-for-four production with three RBIs helped him continue his climb out of the .170s. He has hit .326 in his last 35 games to lift his average to a more respectable .254.
"But our team has always relied on the home run, too. That's the way this team is built. We don't steal bases; we wait for the three- or four-run homer," Ripken said.
The Orioles' two home runs increased their season total to 68, second in the league to Milwaukee's 70. In their last two games, the Orioles have scored 16 runs on 31 hits.
"This club has really hit right from opening day," said Manager Earl Weaver. "Of course, there have been some good ball games thrown at us, but we've never had a slump. Somebody's always been there."
While the Orioles were hitting Yankees Mike Morgan (six runs and eight hits) and reliever Jim Granger (three runs on six hits), the Martinezes were putting a damper on the usually powerful Yankees.
The Yankees had only six hits, including a double and triple by Dave Winfield, in scoring single runs in the first, second, fourth and sixth innings.
Roenicke, whose 14th home run lifted him into third place in the American League behind Andre Thornton (16) and Kent Hrbek (15), said it was an adjustment playing the Reggie Jackson-less Yankees for the first time this season.
"It seems strange to face a Yankee team without Reggie," he said. "He sort of was the Yankees, and they're a lot different now."
Still, the Yankees have the potential to beat teams with the home run.
"People are getting the wrong impression about this Yankee team," Weaver said. "Sure, they have speed, but they have seven guys who can break a game open with the long ball."
The Orioles' five-run first erased a short-lived one-run Yankee lead. With two outs, Ken Singleton and Eddie Murray walked, setting things up for John Lowenstein and Gary Roenicke, who have 25 home runs between them. Lowenstein doubled home one run before Roenicke and Ripken hit their home runs.
Martinez, who has had problems in the early innings this season ably protected that lead through six innings, before he gave way to Tippy Martinez in the seventh.
"I think Dennis pitched a good ball game tonight. He got hurt on a couple fly balls and a tight strike zone, but they have a powerful left-handed-hitting lineup, and he pitched it just right most of the way," said Weaver.
And the Yankees, who have been forced to rely on a cast of young pitchers, could not give Morgan much support tonight.
In the first, they eked out a run when Ken Griffey beat out an infield hit, stole second and scored on Bobby Murcer's sacrifice fly. They whittled the Orioles' lead to 5-2 in the second when Roy Smalley singled in Winfield, who had doubled, and in the fourth, Smalley singled across Graig Nettles, who had doubled.
The Orioles went on another tear in the seventh, adding three runs. Al Bumbry opened the inning with a single and scored on Ken Singleton's grounder through the drawn-in infield. After Murray walked and pinch hitter Jim Dwyer struck out, Roenicke walked to load the bases and Ripken drove them in with a two-run single to left.