Cal Ripken Jr. had been in a slump. So he was somewhat surprised tonight with the results when his father, the Baltimore Orioles' third base coach, kept flashing the hit sign to him.
With Ripken leading the way with a home run and four singles in five at bats, the Orioles had a season-high 20 hits in a 10-3 victory over the Texas Rangers.
Dan Ford, who had three hits, and Ken Singleton also hit homers for the Orioles. Ripken and Ford hit theirs off loser Rick Honeycutt (5-15) in a three-run first inning that helped make Jim Palmer (10-3) an easy complete-game winner.
"It was one of those nights when everything fell in," Ripken said. "Things have been up and down for us so much this year, you never know in this game when things will turn around. Maybe it's time for things to come together."
Ripken, acknowledging what he called his best game in the major leagues, said, "I got five hits once, in high school."
Tonight's victory enabled the Orioles to sweep this three-game series and end this trip with a 5-9 record. They return to Baltimore to open a three-game series Tuesday night against Toronto.
All the Orioles have been in somewhat of a batting slump recently. Ripken's average had dropped to .256 and the team average had fallen from .266 to .258.
"That's one hell of a drop at this time of the year," said Manager Earl Weaver. "I know sooner or later it's going to go back up and may be it is (now)."
"Hitting is contagious," said Ripken Jr. "You see other people getting hits and suddenly you see yourself getting a hit."
The Orioles remained optimistic about their chances of catching Milwaukee in the AL East. Despite the poor road trip, the Orioles lost only 3 1/2 games to the Brewers during the swing. Baltimore started it four games behind and ended it 7 1/2 back. The teams end the season playing six games against each other.
"I hope this is when we start rolling," Ford said. "We're still in it (the race). All we need to do is put together hits and runs like we did tonight."
The two first-inning homers helped give Palmer a 3-0 lead before he threw a pitch.
Leadoff batter Lenn Sakata struck out, but Ford hit Honeycutt's next pitch into the left field bleachers. It was Ford's ninth homer this year. Ripken, the next batter, extended the lead to 2-0 by hitting a 3-2 fast ball just over the fence in left for his 19th home run. Eddie Murray singled to center and scored one out later on Gary Roenicke's double to right-center.
The Rangers got two runs in the second. After walking designated hitter John Grubb, Palmer surrendered a single to Mike Richardt. With runners on first and second, Bucky Dent lined a double down the left field line, scoring both. Dent had five RBI in two nights.
Palmer escaped further damage, getting ground outs from Don Werner and George Wright before striking out Billy Sample.
The Orioles saw three pitchers and increased their lead to 5-2 in the third. Dan Boitano, who replaced Honeycutt to start the second inning, began the third by giving up singles to Ford and Ripken. Both advanced a base on a wild pitch. Murray scored Ford from third with a sacrifice fly to Sample in left. Following an intentional walk to John Lowenstein, who was in for Benny Ayala, Roenicke lined a single to left, scoring Ripken and putting runners at the corners with one out.
Boitano was replaced by left-hander Paul Mirabella, who walked Singleton. That prompted Texas Manager Darrell Johnson to bring in right-hander Steve Comer to face Rick Dempsey. Comer, who lost Friday's game, got Dempsey to ground to shortstop for a routine double play.
Baltimore got another run in the fifth. With one out, Lowenstein hit a long fly that appeared to bounce off the top of the wall in right and back onto the field of play. But second base umpire Jerry Neudecker, despite protests by Lowenstein and Weaver, ruled the ball playable and Lowenstein had only a double. Roenicke singled to left and Lowenstein scored on Singleton's sacrifice fly to left.
The Orioles scored twice in the sixth, making it 8-2. Dauer led off with a single, Sakata doubled and Ford got his third hit and second RBI of the game with a single to left. Ripken brought Sakata in from third with a single up the middle. Then Murray hit an infield pop up and the Orioles were retired as Lowenstein lined out to Richardt, who threw to Dent to double up Ford.