Maybe the Baltimore Orioles just can't get excited about winning games the easy way. Or maybe they just wanted the crowd of 39,462 to stay a while longer for yet another astonishing ending.
The Orioles had a comfortable two-run lead going into the eighth before Sammy Stewart gave up two runs that allowed Milwaukee to tie the game. Then, Tim Stoddard (4-3) gave up a run in the 11th that gave the Brewers a 7-6 lead.
What a tease. With two out in the Orioles' half of the inning, rookie John Stefero singled to right , scoring Gary Roenicke to give Baltimore an 8-7 victory and a four-game sweep of now forlorn Milwaukee.
Ken Singleton, the previous batter, had tied the game, 7-7, with a two-out single just over Robin Yount's head at shortstop. He scored Cal Ripken, who got a four-foot infield single with one out to start the rally and went to third on Roenicke's hit.
Stefero had pinch-hit for an angry Rick Dempsey in the ninth, but flied to left to end the inning. "If the left fielder had been playing me to pull like the other two outfielders, that would have fallen in," said Stefero, who also had singled in the winning run in the Orioles' come-from-behind 10-9 victory Sunday. "I'm pumped up. It's kind of a one-in-a million chance to get to do this."
The victory gave Baltimore a 7 1/2-game lead over idle Detroit in the American League East. The Orioles will begin a four-game series in Detroit Tuesday with a twinight doubleheader.
The Orioles felt vindicated, because they could have won in the 10th if a balk had been called against reliever Tom Tellmann (9-4).
John Shelby had singled, moved to second on Lenn Sakata's sacrifice bunt and had the green light to steal third with Rich Dauer, a .231 hitter, at bat.
Tellmann, pitching from the stretch, started his delivery to home plate. But after seeing Shelby from the corner of his eye, Tellmann stopped in the middle of that delivery, stumbled off the mound and started the motion to throw to first.
The Orioles argued vigorously that he had balked; Sakata was ejected for tossing a helmet onto the field.
"The home plate ump (Dave Phillips) missed it," said Baltimore Manager Joe Altobelli. "It was very obvious. The third base ump (Steve Palermo) was honest enough to say he didn't see it."
Whatever the case, Shelby figured, "There was more action to come," and he was correct.
Stoddard, who relieved Tippy Martinez, retired Paul Molitor and Ben Oglivie (who had pinch-hit for Randy Ready) in the 11th, but hit Yount after getting two strikes on him. Yount stole second, Cecil Cooper was intentionally walked and Ted Simmons followed with a single to give the Brewers their first lead, 7-6.
But the Orioles came back again, and handed Milwaukee its 10th straight defeat, a team record. Milwaukee, last year's league champion, also was eliminated from the race.
Baltimore took a 3-0 lead in the second on a run-scoring single by Joe Nolan and a two-run single by Al Bumbry. The lead went to 4-0 in the third when Dan Ford led off with a triple and scored on the first of Ripken's four singles.
But starter Scott McGregor, who failed to win his 18th game of the season, was not especially sharp tonight and lasted only six innings.
The Brewers pulled within 4-3 in the fifth on a bases-loaded, run-scoring single by Ready; two more runs scored when Roenicke fell down and let the ball roll to the wall.
The Orioles made it 6-3 in the fifth when Singleton hit a two-run single about an inch above the head of reliever Jerry Augustine.
The Brewers pulled within 6-4 in the sixth on Mark Brouhard's seventh home run of the season and third against Baltimore. Then, in the eighth, with Stewart trying to save one for McGregor, Milwaukee got a run-scoring single from Rick Manning and a RBI grounder by Jim Gantner.
Many fans started home in the 11th after Eddie Murray made the second out. But most have learned not to leave until it's over for sure.
"I still can't believe it," Martinez said. "It's like a episode of 'Fantasy Island.'"