Al Bumbry reached base four times, scoring three runs, and reliever Tippy Martinez pitched out of a one-out, two-on jam in the ninth inning to lead the Baltimore Orioles to a 5-4 decision over the Milwaukee Brewers tonight before 41,137 at Memorial Stadium.
Baltimore appeared to have the game well in hand when it entered the final inning with a 5-2 lead. But reliever Sammy Stewart walked the first two batters, Cecil Cooper and Ted Simmons. Martinez came in and surrendered two runs on a hit and an error by shortstop Cal Ripken before getting the final two outs.
"We were definitely feeling the pressure," said Orioles' Manager Joe Altobelli. "You'd think that with a relatively comfortable lead we'd be okay. But you have to give Milwaukee credit. That's no 'Mary Had A Little Lamb' team.
"Milwaukee was a hell of a club last year and is still one hell of a team."
Baltimore picked up a game each on Detroit and New York, which lost to Boston and Cleveland, respectively, tonight in the race for the American League East Division title. The Orioles are a season-high seven games in front of Detroit and eight ahead of New York. Baltimore's magic number is nine.
Milwaukee, which had contended for the division title through August, has lost eight straight and is in fifth place, 12 games back.
Bumbry, who has reached base safely seven straight times in this series, started rallies with leadoff singles in the first and fifth innings and ran aggressively on the bases. Bumbry stole two bases and scampered home with a sixth-inning run when catcher Simmons' throw to second hit Dan Ford as the Orioles pulled a double steal.
"Bumbry has had a great year. We need veterans like him to come through," said Altobelli. "He played on some bad legs last year, but this season he's been healthy and it shows."
Mike Flanagan started for Baltimore and pitched seven business-like innings to raise his record to 12-3. Flanagan gave up seven hits and two earned runs, walked only two batters and allowed more than one base runner in only one inning. He struck out two and was removed after the seventh when the injury that sidelined him earlier in the season flared up.
"I felt great for six innings," said Flanagan, who threw just 81 pitches and picked Milwaukee's Charlie Moore off first base in the third. "Then the leg started bothering me and the hip tightened up. Rather than push me back to the stage where I was about 10 days ago, we thought I should just come out."
Baltimore reached Brewers starter Bob Gibson (2-3) for seven hits and all five runs in six innings. Gibson, starting his fifth game after spending most of the season in the bullpen, threw 103 pitches and labored throughout the contest. He gave up six walks and allowed at least one baserunner in five of his six innings.
"He kept getting too much of the plate with his pitches," said Ken Singleton, the Orioles' designated hitter who drove in a run with a fifth-inning sacrifice fly. "He was behind on almost every batter, and had to come in with good pitches. It wasn't hard to figure him out."
Baltimore scored one run in the first when Bumbry led off with a single and scored on Eddie Murray's sacrifice fly.
Bumbry also led off the fifth with a single and was sacrificed to second by Ford. Ripken then singled up the middle, scoring Bumbry. Murray reached on an error and John Lowenstein walked to load the bases, and Singleton's sacrifice fly gave Baltimore a 3-0 lead.
Milwaukee scored its first run in the sixth as Moore came home on Robin Yount's sacrifice fly, but Baltimore answered with two more runs in the bottom of the inning. Rich Dauer walked and took second on Bumbry's single. Ford followed with another single, scoring Dauer. This set up the double steal and the subsequent error by Simmons that allowed Bumbry to score.
Right-hander Pete Vuckovich will not pitch the rest of the season and there is a good chance right-hander Moose Haas and left fielder Ben Oglivie are also out for the year, Brewers Manager Harvey Kuenn said.
Vuckovich (0-2), who missed the first five months of the season with a torn rotator cuff, has pulled a hamstring muscle in his right leg.
Haas (13-3) has a sore pitching arm and Oglivie, who has been available for pinch-hitting, a bruised heel.