With Rick Sutcliffe on the mound for the Cleveland Indians, the evening did not look promising for the Orioles. Since coming to Cleveland from the Dodgers in 1982, Sutcliffe had a 4-0 record and an earned run average of 0.56 against Baltimore in 32 innings.
So what happened tonight? The Orioles drove him from the mound in the seventh inning, gaining an 8-2 victory and remaining atop the American League East standings, percentage points ahead of the Detroit Tigers.
"Tonight it was obvious that Sutcliffe was struggling," said the Orioles' Ken Singleton, who had two hits and two RBI. "We certainly were due against the guy. You can't be superhuman every time out. But you wouldn't be very successful hitting against someone like him every night."
"We were going against a guy who tears us up," said Rich Dauer, who had three RBI with a double and single. "I don't like hitting against Sutcliffe. I hope we don't see him in Baltimore next week."
In additon to the clutch hitting of Singleton and Dauer, the Orioles were helped by starting pitcher Storm Davis, who lifted his record to 10-4 while lowering his earned run average to 3.18.
Davis left after walking the leadoff batter in the sixth. It was Davis' fourth straight victory and seventh in his last eight decisions.
Davis was not removed from the game for ineffectiveness. He surrendered four hits and walked just one. "The problem was that my tricep muscle tightened up," he said. "I won't miss any starts because of it. It just got a little stiff. My control was pretty good tonight, but I had to use my changeup more than I wanted because the tightness in my arm made it tough to throw the fast ball."
He retired the first seven batters of the game and allowed only one base runner until the fifth when Cleveland scored on Pat Tabler's double and George Vukovich's single.
Meanwhile, Baltimore was taking advantage of Sutcliffe's failing control.
After Todd Cruz singled in the third, Dauer doubled him home for the first run of the game. In the fourth, with Singleton on third and Joe Nolan on second, Dauer produced again, hitting a two-run single to center field.
Eddie Murray gave the Orioles their fourth run with his 22nd homer of the season to lead off the fifth. Baltimore got two more runs in the seventh on RBI singles by Nolan and pinch hitter Jim Dwyer. Singleton drove in the final two runs in the eighth with a double.
The Orioles got 10 hits and nine walks off Sutcliffe and Dan Spillner.
Dan Morogiello worked 1 1/3 innings in relief of Davis, but after giving up two singles with one out in the seventh, he was replaced by Tim Stoddard.
Stoddard gave the Orioles a scare in the eighth, despite holding an 8-1 lead. Singles by Toby Harrah and Bake McBride plus a walk to Andy Thornton loaded the bases with nobody out.
Tabler singled to score Harrah, the bases remaining loaded. Gorman Thomas drove the first pitch into the left field seats, barely foul. He followed that with a line drive caught by Aurelio Rodriguez at third, and the inning ended when Julio Franco bounced into a double play.