Just when the ball was getting lost among the raindrops, the Baltimore Orioles scored two runs before a complete cloudburst to beat the Chicago White Sox, 3-1, tonight in a game called after six innings here in Comiskey Park.
In the sixth inning, consecutive doubles by Cal Ripken and Eddie Murray ended a 1-1 tie. Fred Lynn's one-out single drove in the game's final run. Mike Boddicker, helped by his own fine defensive play, retired Chicago in the bottom of the inning.
A double-play grounder by Harold Baines was the game's final play, although the umpires waited 1 hour 37 minutes before making it official.
Boddicker (6-1) allowed only four hits to help the Orioles end a four-game losing streak.
Floyd Bannister (2-4) struck out 10 in 5 2/3 innings for Chicago, which lost after five straight victories. Bannister allowed only one hit through five innings.
"He established his fast ball inside early in the game," Ripken said. "And that made his breaking pitches more effective. He was definitely on."
The only inning when Bannister wasn't on was the sixth. Ripken started with a double to left. And Murray drove in the game-winning run with another double to virtually the same spot in the outfield, just inside the line.
"I just got a couple of balls up and they happened to hit them down the line," Bannister said. "That's the way it goes."
It went well again for Boddicker, who won his fifth straight and isn't doing badly for a man who's supposed to be a slow starter. The only run he allowed tonight was Oscar Gamble's home run in the fifth.
That came two pitches after Boddicker's body and arm were out of sync on a curve ball that went about five feet behind the batter's box. Boddicker grimaced after the pitch, but stayed in the game.
It easily could have been assumed that the ball was wet and slipped out of his hand. But as he explained: "I tried to throw a curve with my arm in front of the rubber and my elbow behind it. It doesn't work that way.
"I felt a twinge in my arm and it went dead for a second. But it was all right."
That was about the only slip-up Boddicker made all night. He even made a slick fielding play on Rudy Law's bunt to the third-base side of the mound leading off the Chicago sixth. Boddicker, after making the throw to first, wound up in a backward somersault.
Scott Fletcher singled after that. And Baines' smash that would have tied the game went foul by about six seats.
"I knew it was foul," Boddicker said. "But I didn't know it was going that far."
Two pitches later, Baines again hit the ball hard, but it went straight to Ripken, who started an inning-ending double play that, more than 90 minutes later, became a game-ending double play.
The grounds crew removed the tarp, and there was some consideration given to resuming the game at midnight (EDT). But the outfield was clearly a swamp. "It's terrible out there," Boddicker said. "It's rained here for three straight days."
The White Sox, of course, wanted the opportunity to play and extend their winning streak. And the way Chicago has been playing, scoring two runs over three innings might not have been much of a problem.
Chicago hurt itself in the third inning on a bizzare play. Bannister, who hadn't given up a run for 17 1/3 innings, walked Lee Lacy with two out. Dan Ford singled, and Ripken struck out on a ball in the dirt.
Problem was, catcher Carlton Fisk couldn't come up with the third strike. And when he did, he threw the ball over first baseman Greg Walker's head.
Lacy came all the way around to score. Ford, who had lost sight of the ball and retreated to first, had to stop at third. "I was thinking, 'Hey, what's going on here?' " he said. Ripken wound up at second base and the Orioles had a 1-0 lead.
"I'm not sure about something, either," Ripken said of the play. "On my follow through, my bat hit something; whether it was his glove or hand or what, I don't know."
One more run would be enough for Boddicker. Baltimore Manager Joe Altobelli said that if the game had resumed after an hour or more, Sammy Stewart would have relieved Boddicker. "Even after 45 minutes, I would have had to think long and hard about sending him back out there."
Pitcher Scott McGregor rejoined the Orioles tonight, after having his shoulder and arm examined Wednesday. Altobelli said McGregor, who had been experiencing some soreness, would miss his scheduled start Sunday in Seattle but might pitch Tuesday in Oakland.