Eddie Murray was looking for a fast ball from Dan Spillner with two outs in the 13th inning tonight, but he didn't expect to see it.
When the Indians' reliever surprised Murray with just what he was hoping for, Murray drove the 3-1 pitch into the third row of the right field seats and the Orioles kept pace in the American League East pennant race.
Baltimore played almost every card in the deck tonight, using five pinch hitters, a pinch runner and four pitchers as they edged Cleveland, 3-2, and ended a two-game losing streak.
The victory kept them four games behind Milwaukee, 5-3 winners over New York.
Murray's 28th home run gave reliever Sammy Stewart all the leeway he needed. Stewart stopped the Indians in the 13th to win his eighth against seven losses. It was Stewart's second straight appearance (he mopped up in Thursday's 3-0 loss), but he said that although it was the first time he could remember pitching back-to-back games in two years, he felt fine.
Murray said he felt he could afford himself the luxury of looking for a fast ball on one last pitch. "After that, I'd be looking for whatever I could get.
"Why throw me a 3-1 fast ball when he could possibly get me on a curve ball?" he asked. Murray was surprised to get his wish "and that's why I only got it into the third row."
Added Orioles Manager Earl Weaver: "Spillner will never do that again--challenge Eddie Murray with the game on the line."
For a while tonight it looked as if Baltimore would never break a curious streak of runless innings against the Indians. The Orioles hadn't scored on Cleveland pitching in 17 innings, dating to July 1, and starter Len Barker held them scoreless through the first six innings tonight to make it 23 straight.
Meanwhile, the Indians took a 2-0 lead. They scored once off starter Scott McGregor in the third inning on two singles and a sacrifice fly by Alan Bannister, and again in the sixth off reliever Storm Davis, whose walk to the leadoff man was followed by a sacrifice bunt and Larry Milbourne's single.
Davis came in to start the fourth after McGregor complained of stiffness in his left shoulder. After the game, McGregor said the pain was minimal and that Weaver pulled him only to ensure he'd be ready for his next start Tuesday.
The Orioles tied it in the seventh on a single by Murray, John Lowenstein's double, a sacrifice fly by Jim Dwyer and Rick Dempsey's single.
From there it was a pitching duel before 8,347 at Cleveland Stadium.
Davis gave way to Tippy Martinez in the eighth after he was hit in the leg (no serious damage) by a drive back to the mound, and Martinez and Stewart were nearly flawless the rest of the way.
Ed Glynn took over in the eighth for Barker and pitched 3 2/3 scoreless innings, striking out five before giving way to Spillner.
Orioles relief pitcher Tim Stoddard underwent surgery for torn knee ligaments today at Baltimore Children's Hospital and "came out. . . better than hoped for," General Manager Hank Peters said.
Stoddard injured his right knee Monday when he slipped in a New York restaurant. He will wear a full leg cast for six weeks or more.
Team officials hope that with extensive rehabilitation he will be ready for spring training in February.