Lefty Scott McGregor, the Baltimore Orioles' most efficient pitcher over the last two months, wasn't at his best today, but he was good enough to beat the Oakland A's, 4-3.
As they head for Anaheim and a three-game series with the Angels, the Orioles have won 12 of their last 15, and got out of Oakland with a 2-2 split after losing the first two games of the series.
The victory tied the Orioles for the lead in the American League East with the Toronto Blue Jays, who lost, 3-0, in Texas.
McGregor (12-4) has won five in a row and seven of eight. He yielded 10 hits, walked only one.
"It took awhile for me to get it together today," said McGregor, who pitched out of difficulties in the third and fourth innings. "But once you do that, and get into the fourth or fifth, then you have a chance to find something."
What he found was his control of his usual assortment of pitches. "I just used the fast ball, change and curve, and try to throw the one they're not looking for."
He got Davey Lopes, who leads the A's in RBIs with 50, to ground out with the bases loaded in the third, and a double play ball to Carney Lansford made two hits in the Oakland fourth meaningless.
Lansford hit a two-run homer in the sixth and Dwayne Murphy hit one into the stands with the bases empty in the ninth for the Oakland runs. By that time the Orioles had four runs.
Eddie Murray, who has shaken whatever slump he was in, doubled off the right field wall to score John Shelby in the first. Murray, who went one for 14 in Seattle, straightened himself out in Oakland. He went five for 14 with a pair of homers here.
"I think he was trying to hit the ball through the dome in Seattle," said Manager Joe Altobelli. "But he's swinging the bat good again." Murray said he was guessing right against the Oakland pitchers. "I had an idea they were going to throw me a lot of breaking balls, so I just stopped looking for fast balls," said Murray. "No point in looking for something you're not going to get."
The Orioles put together their winning rally in the fifth. Al Bumbry opened with a single to center. Shelby sacrificed him to second. After Cal Ripken, who had his 11-game hitting streak snapped, grounded out, the A's wanted no part of Murray and walked him intentionally.
However, Jim Dwyer, who has been the Orioles' hottest hitter, showed the foolishness of that strategy by doubling down the right field line, to score Bumbry. Ken Singleton's single to left brought in two more runs and made a loser of A's starter Steve McCatty (3-5).
Altobelli denied a television report (heard on the Orioles' broadcast) that he planned to use injured Mike Flanagan next Monday in the Hall of Fame game against St. Louis.
"We thought about that but decided against it," said Altobelli. "We'll probably bring some babies up to work that game. Or if there is somebody on the staff that needs some work, we might use them."