The Baltimore Orioles finally shook off the Oakland A's this afternoon, scoring three times in the eighth inning and once in the ninth in ending their two-game losing streak with a 7-3 victory at the Oakland Coliseum.
Storm Davis (9-4), although somewhat shaky at the finish, pitched his fifth complete game of the season. Davis gave up four of Oakland's eight hits in the last inning, when the A's scored twice. He has won six of his last seven decisions.
The loser was Tim Conroy (2-4), the one-time wunderkind whom former A's owner Charlie Finley rushed into the major leagues five years ago at the age of 18. Conroy, a left-hander, is still a rookie, but he pitched like a veteran today. He left in the eighth inning trailing, 3-1, but was ultimately charged with five runs.
Home runs by the revived Eddie Murray, his 19th, in the second and Cal Ripken Jr. (No. 16) in the sixth and Conroy's problems with a balk and a wild pitch had accounted for Baltimore's first three runs.
But the Orioles had all sorts of fun with Oakland's bullpen after Conroy developed a blister on the middle finger of his pitching hand. Their late rally made Oakland's two runs and four hits in the ninth an exercise in futility.
Pinch hitter Jim Dwyer's bases-loaded double to left center off rookie Keith Atherton, which scored two runs, was the big hit in the eighth.
"I had been trying to pull the ball until I got two strikes on me," said Dwyer. "But then I changed my strategy and was just trying to make contact."
Dwyer has been on a tear. In his last eight games he is 13 for 24 with seven doubles, a triple, two homers and 14 RBI. He has raised his average from .254 to .330.
A sacrifice fly by Todd Cruz brought in another run, and three straight singles in the ninth off Rich Wortham, with Ripken getting the RBI, finished the Orioles' scoring and made it easy for Davis.
"Davis gave us just what we needed," said his manager, Joe Altobelli. "The complete game was important to give our bullpen a rest."
In losing the first two games of the series to the A's, Altobelli had used eight pitchers. Davis, who earlier in the year said he "wasn't in the complete-game business," was aware of Altobelli's plight.
"I knew I had to give those guys a rest if I could," said Davis, who did it primarily with cut fast balls.
"On a bright day like this, it is hard for the hitters to pick the ball up if you keep it low," he said. "I just tried to throw it hard. Conroy was doing the same thing--that's why he was effective."
Davis, just 21, figures he will become an even better pitcher as he gains experience. "Right now the wins are fun and the strikeouts are great, but I'm just trying to learn," he said. "In every game I've learned a little bit."
The Orioles gave him enough offense to make today's learning enjoyable. Murray, who came into the game in a five-for-22 funk, sent Conroy's fast ball into the left center field seats in the second. He later singled and walked twice to finish two for three.
The A's tied in their half of the inning on two singles, Davis' wild pickoff attempt and Bill Almon's grounder, but the Orioles took the lead for good in the third.
Rick Dempsey doubled off the left field wall to start the inning, and Conroy helped him the rest of the way around the bases. While pitching to John Shelby, Conroy dropped the ball behind him. A balk was called and Dempsey went to third. A wild pitch brought him home.
Ripken homered in the sixth off a fast ball, increasing his hitting streak to 11 games.
On Friday, Dwayne Murphy and Garry Hancock homered and Oakland scored two runs in the seventh to rally for a 4-3 victory.
Winner Tom Burgmeier (5-5) pitched four innings of scoreless relief. He came on in relief of starter Rick Langford, who gave up a leadoff sixth-inning homer to Jim Dwyer that put the Orioles ahead, 3-1.
But Hancock homered in the sixth to make it 3-2. Almon singled in one run in the seventh to tie and pinch runner Dan Meyer scored the go-ahead run when Ripken misplayed a potential double-play ball.