After pitching masterfully for three hours tonight, Baltimore's Mike Boddicker came away a loser as Oakland made the best of three walks, two bunts and an error.
That final walk, on four pitches to Dwayne Murphy with the bases loaded, forced Dave Collins across the plate with two outs in the 10th to give the A's a 3-2 victory over the Orioles.
After ball three, which was very high, Boddicker nearly fell off the mound in disgust with himself. Ball four was clearly high, and Boddicker, who had owned Murphy all night (two strikeouts and a pop-up), walked from the mound with his five-game winning streak over.
The winning run was unearned because of Rick Dempsey's error on a sacrifice bunt. But Boddicker had to fault himself for walking Alfredo Griffin to start the inning.
Collins put down a sacrifice bunt, and reached base safely when Dempsey, in his haste to get the out at first, failed to pick up the ball.
Carney Lansford sacrificed both runners into scoring position. The Orioles intentionally walked Bruce Bochte, one of the hottest hitters in the league with a .370 batting average coming into the game.
The strategy seemed to work when pinch hitter Dan Meyer grounded to Eddie Murray, who threw home for a force play that gave Boddicker the second out. But Boddicker (6-2) just couldn't find the plate against Murphy, whose batting average had dropped below .200 during the game.
The Orioles had a chance in top of the 10th. But pinch hitter Larry Sheets, after failing to sacrifice Lee Lacy to second, grounded into a double play, helping reliever Jay Howell (1-2) get the victory, which if justice were served, should have been shared with starter Bill Krueger, who allowed only two runs and six hits over nine innings.
Boddicker, in defeat, allowed only six hits. And as Howell said later, "I know he feels bad. But he's a great pitcher. He's out there in the 10th, and doesn't even give up a hit, but loses the game. He's great."
The game started as if there would plenty of runs. With two out in the first, Ripken hit home run No. 8 of the season. And like most of his others this year, it wasn't cheap. Krueger's 3-2 pitch wasn't even that bad. It looked to be knee high, but Ripken golfed it 400 feet to left field for a 1-0 lead.
Boddicker was in trouble a half-inning later. Collins doubled to left leading off, and Lansford's single to right was hit so hard that Collins had to stop at third.
Boddicker did a good job on the next three hitters. But Bochte's roller to second base was just slow enough to send Collins home with the tying run.
One of the stranger plays this season occurred in the Baltimore third. Dempsey led off with a grounder to short. Griffin's throw to first was wide and Dempsey did a good job sliding inside the tag.
Dempsey slid past the bag, which is usually permissible at first. But his body was pointed toward second base, so Bochte applied the tag, Dempsey was out, causing Dempsey and his manager, Joe Altobelli, to protest long and loudly.
The next five batters went out meekly, But the Orioles finally pushed across another run in the fifth. Fred Lynn walked to open the inning, and narrowly avoided being picked off at second when Rich Dauer singled to center.
Dempsey walked to load the bases with one out, and the Orioles almost got nothing out of it when Lacy came a half-step from grounding into a double play. But when he beat the throw at first, Lynn scored for a 2-1 lead.
It didn't last long. Oakland's Mike Davis, who is hitting seventh despite being the team's best hitter, led off with a single, and Donnie Hill sacrificed.
Boddicker had Davis picked off second, but the throw hit Davis, and rolled just far enough for him to take third.
As a result, the Baltimore infield played in for a play at the plate, which is why Griffin's grounder rolled past Murray for a single that tied the game, 2-2.
Otherwise, there were a lot of aborted rallies and a lot of strikeouts on both sides. The most embarrassing whiff of the night had to belong to the Sultan of Strike, Dave Kingman, who looked so off-balance and comical on a swinging third strike in the sixth that the entire Coliseum was filled with laughter.
Boddicker also got Murphy on strikes a few pitches later. In fact, Boddicker had only allowed five hits until two were out in the seventh. That's when Lacy got an extremely late start on Hill's sinking line drive to right that he should have caught.
The Orioles had a decent shot at taking the lead in the eighth, even though there were two out when Murray and Gary Roenicke walked back to back.
The way Baltimore has been producing with two outs, especially with Lynn at the plate, it seemed like as good a scoring opportunity as any. But Lynn popped out to Murphy in center field.