Bulletin: A Baltimore pitcher didn't have to throw a complete game to get a victory tonight; the Orioles' bullpen came through.
Don Aase, whose ERA was hovering near seven runs a game, came on for Scott McGregor and closed out the Brewers in the eighth and ninth to save Baltimore's 3-2 victory over Milwaukee tonight in County Stadium. By ending their four-game losing streak, the Orioles moved within 5 1/2 games of American League East-leading Toronto, which lost earlier in the day to Boston.
McGregor (6-6) left after walking Cecil Cooper to start the eighth. But Aase, with the aid of Eddie Murray's fielding, got Robin Yount to hit into a fielder's choice and Ted Simmons to hit into a double play.
Aase ran the count to 3 and 0 on pinch hitter Ben Oglivie to start the ninth, but got Oglivie to ground out, then gave up only a harmless single before earning his second save this season.
He called the curve ball Simmons hit for the double play, "the key pitch, right there. He's a good fast ball hitter, so I had to throw him something breaking."
Murray fielded the grounder to start the double play in the eighth. And on the play before that, he pounced on Yount's bunt and threw out Cooper at second.
Aase, like the rest of the bullpen except for Nate Snell, has struggled lately. "I've got a ways to go with some mechanics," Aase said. "But tonight I slowed down my body, and that helped me. When I don't, I wind up pushing the ball."
The Orioles' manager, Earl Weaver, was almost giddy when he told reporters that Aase threw as fast as 91 mph.
But then again, Weaver was just happy, period. This was probably his favorite game since returning to the dugout last week.
Of all his moves tonight, his favorite had to be Lenn Sakata's two-out suicide squeeze bunt in the fourth that gave the Orioles a 2-1 lead.
"Now this was a baseball game," Weaver said with pride. "It's the first real one we've played since I've been back."
When asked to recall the last time he ordered a suicide squeeze, the man who lives for the three-run homer said, "I can't. I've done it before though, with Mark Belanger, with Rich Dauer.
"It's just tough to get a guy on third with no outs and leave him standing there."
The decision itself wasn't that difficult. "I knew that one run would be important, because Scotty looked like he had his good stuff," Weaver said. "If a pitcher doesn't have his good stuff, you play for as many runs as you can. Well, at least I do. Plus, we've got the No. 9 hitter up there, who's hitting .190 (actually, Sakata came into tonight's game hitting .205). It gives a .190 hitter an extra weapon."
The Orioles, who stranded 13 runners, needed as many extra weapons as they could get in beating Danny Darwin (6-6), who pitched 5 2/3 innings.
McGregor had easily retired the first four batters before Simmons hit his second home run of the year, for a 1-0 lead in the second.
The Orioles couldn't score until the fourth, when they got two runs off Darwin, one of them unearned.
Wayne Gross sent his batting average over .250 with a double off the wall in right, then paused at third on Larry Sheets' single to right. But right fielder Mark Brouhard made one of the ugliest throws ever. It was so far up the line -- midway between third and home -- it was impossible to tell whether he overthrew the cutoff man or merely missed the plate.
Gross scored the tying run, and the equally lead-footed Sheets, who already was going to second on the throw, took third.
When Sakata bunted, Darwin tried to scoop the ball and throw it to the plate in one motion. But he missed the ball completely, and Sheets' run provided a 2-1 lead.
The Brewers tied it in their half of the fourth. Earnie Riles tripled over Fred Lynn to the center field wall and scored when Cooper doubled over Lynn.
The Orioles went ahead in the sixth by scoring after two were out. Lee Lacy, his batting average up to a season-high .281, singled up the middle, stole second, went to third on Jim Dwyer's unintentional swinging bunt and scored the eventual winning run when Ripken singled up the middle. Reliever Bob McClure got Murray to fly out to center to keep the Brewers within a run.
In the Brewers seventh, Paul Molitor put down a bunt after Charlie Moore had singled with one out. But McGregor got Riles to pop out, ending yet another threat.