Baltimore Manager Earl Weaver likes where his Orioles are situated going into the break for the All-Star Game.
After the Orioles defeated the Oakland A's, 8-7, today, Weaver looked at the standings in the American League East and said:
"We've got a hell of a race going and we're just three games out in the loss column. I don't see anyone dropping out of it. If you're three games out by Aug. 11, you've still got a good chance to pick them up. That means we've got an extra month."
Only Boston, Milwaukee and 3 1/2 games separate the Orioles from first place, which is more than you can say for the defending West champion A's. They are in fifth place, 11 games out, and gasping.
The Orioles totaled 12 hits to the A's 11. According to Martin, it wasn't the hits but the walks that hurt Oakland's chances. Three Oakland pitchers walked six batters. The Orioles used five pitchers, but they walked only one.
Eddie Murray drove in four runs with a home run and single for Baltimore. His three-run homer in the fifth off starter and loser Brian Kingman (1-6) put the Orioles ahead for good, 5-4.
"Murray hit a good pitch, a low curve ball," Oakland Manager Billy Martin said. "That didn't hurt us. The walk to (Ken) Singleton before the homer did."
The A's kept fighting back. Tim Stoddard, who earned his ninth save, gave up a three-run homer to Dave Lopes with one out in the ninth, and gave the 23,484 Oakland Coliseum fans hope. Stoddard sent them home unhappy by retiring the next two batters without the ball leaving the infield.
"I wanted to make sure we scored eight and they scored seven to make our one-run record look better," Stoddard said.
Stoddard was called into the game in the eighth after Dan Meyer barely missed hitting a homer off Tippy Martinez. The ball hit the top edge of the right-field fence and bounced back onto the field for a triple, instead of landing in the bleachers for what would have been the tying run.
Stoddard retired Tony Armas for the third out of the inning on a weak fly to center.
Jim Palmer was supposed to start today, but Baltimore decided to rest him because he had a cortisone injection in his ailing right elbow Friday. Storm Davis, at 20 the youngest player in the majors, got the assignment and was sailing along with a 5-2 lead until Dwayne Murphy and Armas homered with the bases empty in the sixth.
That persuaded Weaver to go to the bullpen. Left-hander Ross Grimsley retired left-handed-hitting Wayne Gross and Don Stanhouse took care of Jeff Burroughs.
Martin didn't have as many options. His leading reliever, Dave Beard, has a leg injury, so starter Rick Langford made his first relief appearance of the year, in the seventh.
The Orioles scored three runs off Langford in the ninth. Dan Ford drove in one run with a double that was his fourth hit of the day. Lenn Sakata drove in two more with a single. Both hits came with two outs. Both were needed.