For Dennis Martinez, 1983 has not been a year to remember. He has twice as many losses as wins and his earned run average is hovering around 6.00.
Because of injuries and Martinez's poor performances, Paul Mirabella got the start against California tonight at Anaheim Stadium.
But it was Martinez who was in there at the end as Baltimore held off the Angels, 5-4.
The win kept the Orioles (55-40) in a three-way tie for first place with Detroit and New York in the AL East. The Tigers defeated the Seattle Mariners, 8-3, and the Yankees shutout the Texas Rangers, 5-0.
Eddie Murray had an RBI double in the first and his 20th homer of the year in the fifth, a two-run shot into the seats in left that broke a 3-3 tie.
California rallied for a run in the eighth on back-to-back doubles by Ron Jackson and rookie Mike Brown, but Martinez (6-12) retired the last four Angels he faced, including pinch hitters Rod Carew and Fred Lynn.
"Dennis finally did what we were looking for," said Baltimore Manager Joe Altobelli. "We checked him in the eighth and ninth innings and he said he felt fine. He sure did a job."
California pitching had been allowing an average of almost 10 hits per game, and the Orioles got nearly a third of their quota in the first inning off Angels starter Geoff Zahn.
Combined with three walks, it made for a three-run first. Dan Ford led off the game with a single to left and Rich Dauer followed with a double that raised a cloud of chalk dust down the left field line.
Ford was out trying to score on Cal Ripken Jr.'s grounder to third, but Dauer scored when Murray got a gift double to left. Ellis Valentine, starting in left for the first time in 10 days, came in on Murray's drive and the ball sailed over his head and landed against the base of the wall.
Zahn then intentionally walked Gary Roenicke and struck out Ken Singleton on a breaking ball Singleton didn't think was a strike.
But Zahn really lost control after that and issued back-to-back bases-loaded walks to Benny Ayala and Todd Cruz before getting Rick Dempsey to ground into a forceout.
The Angels got to Orioles starter Mirabella for a run in the second, on a double by Bobby Grich and two groundouts. They evened the score in the third with a double, a pair of walks and Grich's two-run single to right.
Mirabella, who has only nine career victories in parts of six seasons in the majors, didn't come out for the fourth. Altobelli went to Martinez, who came in with a 5-12 record and a 5.82 earned run average.
Zahn, who was 2-1 since coming off the disabled list (shoulder inflammation) on July 11, settled down after the rocky first and held the Orioles hitless until Dauer got a two-out single to left in the fifth.
That brought on Murray, who hit another drive that Valentine had some trouble with. The Angels outfielder stood at the base of the seats down the left-field line and watched the ball land in the crowd. It appeared Valentine had at least a chance of catching the ball, but he never put up his glove or left his feet and the Orioles were back on top, 5-3.
Martinez found that long-missing groove and coasted through the next four innings. He allowed just a bloop single to Tim Foli in the fourth and faced the minimum of 12 batters for the four innings (Bob Boone hit into a double play after Foli's hit).
"It's a big plus any time a guy who's been struggling, pitches like that," said Ray Miller, Orioles pitching coach, about Martinez.