Rarely have the Orioles needed a complete game more desperately than tonight and Dennis Martinez responded with his second straight, an 8-3 victory over Texas.
Cal Ripken's two-run homer in the fifth erased a 3-2 deficit and Al Bumbry's three-run double in Baltimore's four-run eighth helped the Orioles to their eighth victory in nine games, before 23,630 at Memorial Stadium.
Because the Baltimore relievers had pitched 17 2/3 innings in the last three games, it was almost imperative that Martinez give the Orioles at least eight innings tonight.
Martinez (13-10) allowed single runs in the second, fourth and fifth, but gave up just three hits the last five innings.
Martinez's key inning was the fourth, when Texas led off with three singles, two that were puny taps in the infield and another that dribbled into center field. The third single, Dave Hostetler's roller past Martinez's glove, tied the score, 2-2, and Texas appeared on the verge of a big inning.
But the Orioles' pitching coach, Ray Miller, went to the mound.
"I said, 'Denny, you haven't thrown a bad pitch this inning,' " Miller recalled afterward. Martinez retired the next three Rangers. "The key to the game was Dennis showing maturity in that inning," Miller said. "Nothing was working out and it looked like the world was coming to an end. But he forgot it and worked his way out."
Martinez allowed a run in the fifth, on a walk and George Wright's run-scoring double to left, then ran into the dugout yelling "Gimme a lead," Miller said.
Ripken's home run -- a 400-foot blast to left field -- came after John Lowenstein had kept the inning going with a two-out single, his third hit of the night.
The Orioles picked up four more runs in the eighth, a rally again started by Lowenstein, who was hit by a pitch. After Ripken's single, starting and losing pitcher Dave Schmidt was relieved by Danny Darwin. He retired two of the three batters he pitched to (Rich Dauer was walked intentionally), but nevertheless was replaced by Rick Honeycutt.
Bumbry smacked Honeycutt's first pitch off the right field wall, inches away from Baltimore's eighth grand slam of the year. Still, Bumbry emptied the bases for a 7-3 lead, and Glenn Gulliver drove in the final run with a single to right.
Martinez, who threw 135 pitches, retired the Rangers in order in the ninth. In the last eight days, in three starts, Martinez has pitched 29 innings and allowed only 18 hits. He pitched 10 innings in Texas without getting the decision (Baltimore won in 12 innings), a 10-inning complete-game victory on Tuesday over Toronto, and tonight's performance. In those three starts Martinez has thrown more than 400 pitches.
Earlier in the day the Orioles had purchased right-hander John Flinn and assigned infielder Floyd Rayford to Rochester. Flinn, who was in uniform tonight, was insurance in case Martinez didn't last.
Miller said Martinez's arm has a remarkable recovery rate and added, "I think it kinds of helps him to pitch so many innings, because he gets a bit tired and doesn't overthrow."
Martinez still was in the trainer's room 20 minutes after the game, unavailable to discuss his achievement.