It didn't take long for Earl Weaver to get comfortable enough to start tinkering. His new batting order against left-handed pitchers wiped out a four-run deficit today and gave the Baltimore Orioles their third straight victory, 7-5, over Milwaukee at Memorial Stadium.
The Brewers led, 4-0, after four innings. But the Orioles tied it in the sixth on a home run by Eddie Murray and got homers from Cal Ripken and Gary Roenicke thereafter to provide plenty of cushion for Nate Snell, who won his first game of the season with 3 2/3 innings of typically effective relief work.
Tippy Martinez came in to record the final out and restore some of the much-needed confidence in Baltimore's bullpen.
But it was Weaver's eye-opening lineup change that received the most attention today. Rich Dauer, who has batted in the eighth spot almost all season, was moved to No. 2, where the Orioles hope to take advantage of his hit-and-run contact skills.
Fred Lynn, who usually bats fifth, flip-flopped with Ripken, who moved from third to fifth. Weaver hopes that the left-handed Lynn will see better pitches with switch-hitting Murray and right-handed Ripken following.
"Looked pretty good to me today, not because of the home runs; they were pretty much after the fact," Weaver said. "But I'm going to stay with the theory until I'm proven wrong. It's logical. We want to have the right men up in the right spot if that's possible."
In Lynn's rookie season -- 1975 in Boston when he won the most valuable player award -- he batted in several spots. "I hit everywhere that year," Lynn said. "Wherever I can help the club the most, that's where I'd like to hit."
In Weaver's opinion, which is the only one likely to count, Lynn will help the club hitting third, against left-handers. "They (opposing pitchers) have got to come to Freddie a little better with Eddie and Rip behind him," Weaver, in his second day back as manager, said after the game.
"We'll go back the other way against right-handers. But against lefties, Freddie's more apt to get that ball down the middle with Eddie next. And Ripken is apt to get Eddie a better 2-1 or 3-1 pitch to hit."
It certainly didn't take Weaver long to really come out of retirement.
And it also didn't take long for Milwaukee again to take an early lead against the Orioles and starter Ken Dixon (five innings, four earned runs). Ben Oglivie's double down the right field line, after it glanced off Murray's glove, looked like it should have been caught.
Instead of the Orioles being out of the inning, Bill Schroeder got a chance to bat and hit a home run over the center field wall that put the Brewers ahead, 2-0.
A fielder's choice by Oglivie drove in another run in the fourth and Ernie Riles' home run, on a full count with two out in the fifth, pushed the margin to 4-0.
The Orioles countered with two in the fifth against starter Teddy Higuera, as Rick Dempsey drove in Roenicke (single) and Fritz Connally (walk) with a double off the wall in left center that came about a foot from being a three-run homer.
Lynn's single and Murray's ensuing home run -- his first of the year batting right-handed -- tied the game, 4-4, and prompted Milwaukee Manager George Bamberger to bring in Bob Gibson.
Bamberger isn't at all happy with his pitchers, who have given up leads in all three games of this series. "I'm going to have a meeting with our pichers tomorrow," he said. "It seems to me they're intimidated by the Orioles. You've got to be aggressive on the mound when you play a team like the Orioles.
"Higuera was great out there for four innings, and then what happened? He started feeling for the plate instead of throwing. It's like for four innings he didn't know who the other team was, then somebody said, 'The Orioles.' "
Gibson (5-4) certainly was no better than Higuera. He walked Ripken with nobody out to set up a sacrifice bunt by Roenicke and a single by pinch hitter Larry Sheets that made it 5-4 in favor of Baltimore.
Gibson also gave up the back-to-back home runs to Ripken, who hit his 10th, about 20 rows into the left field stands, and Roenicke, his fifth.
Snell had a rare chance to finish the game with his scoreless inning streak intact. But Paul Molitor's run-scoring single with two out stopped the string at 20 1/3 innings.
Martinez made it tight by walking Riles, but he retired the league's leading hitter, Cecil Cooper, on a fly ball that ended the game and Cooper's 14-game hitting streak. It was Martinez's third save of the season.
"I'm just sorry that (Snell) didn't get the last out," Weaver said. "All of his stats are excellent. He did it (middle relief) as well as I've seen it done. He's got a moving fast ball and I'm really impressed with his control."
Weaver also was quick to point out that he wasn't displeased with Dixon. "He did exactly what we wanted him to do," Weaver said. "We wanted him to throw as many strikes as he possibly could, and naturally some of them didn't get in the right place."
Dixon said, "I'm not pitching that poorly or that great. I'm in that medium range that's just not good enough. I need one really good outing to just get back on track. I'm really a power pitcher and I need to be cocky enough to say, 'Here, take this.' "