The Cleveland Indians again proved they are the masters of Memorial Stadium, defeating the Baltimore Orioles tonight for the sixth straight time here and dropping them two games behind Milwaukee in the American League East race.
After 3 hours 31 minutes, the Indians had won, 5-3, and ended the Orioles' five-game winning streak in the second-longest nine-inning game here this year. After 172 pitches, winning pitcher Rick Sutcliffe was only 15 shy of the record for most deliveries by a pitcher here, at least as far back as anyone could remember.
Sutcliffe (13-6), who profited from four runs batted in by rookie Von Hayes, two on a homer and two on a single, was denied a shot at that dubious record by Manager Dave Garcia, and only then under duress.
"He told me I was coming out after the eighth, but I asked him to let me stay in," said the 6-foot-7 right-hander, who bamboozled the Orioles for the third time this year.
"I was all set to go in but I guess he changed his mind," said Sutcliffe.
Instead, reliever Ed Glynn preserved the victory. With a 5-2 lead, Glynn walked Gary Roenicke, then wild-pitched twice, Roenicke coming home with the last run.
All three Oriole runs were undeserved, as they managed only four hits against Sutcliffe. He had not allowed a single run in 16 previous innings against Baltimore this season.
But the Orioles took a 2-0 lead in the fourth after John Lowenstein got one of the seven walks issued by Sutcliffe. Cal Ripken Jr. moved him to second with a single. Jim Dwyer, next up, tried to advance the runners with a bunt. He pushed it along the third base line and catcher Ron Hassey leaped out and pounced on the ball.
Hassey had a play on Lowenstein going to third, but he threw wide and in the dirt, the ball shooting past the bag and bouncing off the box seat railing into left field. Lowenstein charged home and Ripken, coming all the way from first, was on his heels with the second run.
Dwyer wound up at second with his two-run sacrifice bunt.
The official scorer ruled one run earned and one unearned, on the idea that a later fly ball would have scored the runner from third had the sacrifice been simply successful.
But that caused more record keepers to scurry around when at game's end it was determined that Sutcliffe's earned-run average after tonight's performance had dipped to 2.98, just above league leader Dan Petry of Detroit. The official scorer reconsidered and ruled both runs unearned, making Sutcliffe the leader at 2.94.
Meantime, news came from Milwaukee that the division-leading Brewers had routed the New York Yankees, 14-0, to double their lead over the Orioles.
Oriole starter Dennis Martinez (14-12) had the Indians in hand through six innings, but then the bubble burst.
Mike Hargrove singled to open the seventh and Hayes, the slat-thin right fielder, hit the next pitch high into the bleachers in right field to tie the score. Pitching coach Ray Miller came out to calm Martinez, who has a history of suddenly collapsing in the midst of a fine performance.
And history repeated itself. The next batter, Rick Manning, lofted a 1-1 fast ball over the right field wall and Cleveland had the lead.
The Indians scored twice more on Hayes' single off reliever Tippy Martinez in the eighth. That assured their seventh victory against only four losses to Baltimore this year.
The defeat renewed suspicions about Dennis Martinez's ability to concentrate when things start to go badly.
Miller defended his pitcher, saying Martinez "ran out of gas" in the seventh. But Manager Earl Weaver was less charitable. "It sure happened fast, I'll tell you that," said Weaver. "What was it, five pitches?"
To Miller's argument that Martinez was pitching every four days and could be wearing down, Weaver pointed out that in his last three starts (0-1, 6.75 ERA) "he's been out of the ball game early. He should be catching up on his rest by now."
Sutcliffe characterized his long night simply. "It wasn't pretty," he said.
A's, White Sox postponed: The game in Chicago was postponed by rain and rescheduled as part of a doubleheader tonight that will begin at 6:30 p.m.
White Sox officials waited an hour and 56 minutes before agreeing to postpone the game.