Only an hour or so before today's game, Baltimore Manager Earl Weaver, the man who has an answer for everything, was asked why Fred Lynn was going to bat fifth, instead of third as he usually does against left-handers.
And Weaver had this revealing answer: "I don't know why." Even on this rarest of occasions, Weaver turned out to be right again.
Lynn broke out of a three-for-24 slump with a grand slam, a triple and a single to lead the Orioles to an 8-3 victory over Kansas City in Royals Stadium.
"Now, we know why," Weaver said wryly. "Turned out pretty good. I think we're gonna leave it this way for a while."
Today's victory, which went to Scott McGregor, not only gave the Orioles six in eight games and five straight on the road, but it put Baltimore in the unfamiliar position of being able to sweep a four-game series from the Royals in the finale here Sunday.
"I don't ever remember winning three straight here," Weaver said. "The chances are that it happened, sometime. But I can't remember it ever happening."
Lynn wasn't the only Oriole to have a good afternoon. Alan Wiggins, in his second game for Baltimore, reached base three times and had two hits and two stolen bases.
And the bottom of the batting order came through again: Mike Young, hitting seventh, had two hits, Rick Dempsey had two doubles and a walk, and Rich Dauer -- starting at third -- had a base hit and two runs batted in.
McGregor (7-7) was hit hard, but he got several superb catches from his outfielders and gave up seven hits in 8 2/3 innings.
But Lynn's performance was outstanding. In addition to his hitting, he made two great catches in center field, one while crashing -- sore back and all -- into the wall.
That catch, of a Hal McRae drive in the second, scared Weaver, since Lynn missed two games last weekend with a back-related injury.
"My spike caught in the warning track," Lynn said. "And when I hit the wall, my head snapped back. It's padded pretty well. Unless you hit it at a bad angle, it's tough to get hurt, although I've done it."
In the top of the inning, Lynn had tripled to right field and scored Baltimore's first run on Gary Roenicke's infield grounder, which gave the Orioles the lead against Kansas City's Danny Jackson (6-5).
Baltimore then scored seven runs in the fifth. Young's single, Dempsey's first double and Dauer's two-run single gave them a 3-0 lead. Dauer took third when Jackson threw wildly to second on a ground ball by Wiggins, and Shelby singled home Dauer. Wiggins stole third but was caught in a rundown after a ground ball by Ripken, with the other runners moving up to second and third.
After an intentional walk to Eddie Murray, Lynn sent a Joe Beckwith pitch to the opposite field for his third career grand slam to make it 8-0.
"I've never hit an opposite-field home run in this park before this," Lynn said. "I didn't hit any balls to right field in batting practice. Sometimes I forget where my roots are, what kind of hitter I really am. So I'll just hit balls to left field. That makes me wait and keep my shoulder in."
Lynn said he had changed his batting stance slightly in Milwaukee two weeks ago, but got in the bad habit of pulling his shoulder out too early. He changed back to the original stance recently, but was hitting left-handers better than righties.
"I wanted to make sure I starting diving into the ball and cover the plate," Lynn said.
Lynn said he had been disappointed with his batting average (.260 before today's game), but added he had to be more conscious than usual about hitting for power in the No. 5 position.
His homer today was his team-high 14th of the season -- which puts him on course for a 30-home run season. And his RBI total shot to 45, which is only seven behind team-leaders Murray and Cal Ripken (52), who are also among the leaders in the American League.
And it appears Lynn will stay in that No. 5 spot in the Baltimore lineup, after a short-lived experiment in which Weaver moved him up to No. 3, hoping Lynn would see better pitches from left-handers with Murray and Ripken following.
"I'm not necessarily crazy about having so many lineups," Weaver said. "I think the one through five spots are set for awhile."
Lynn had seven putouts for the day, which isn't a surprising number when McGregor's changeup is making hitters pop, by design.
McGregor, with the temperature in the 90s, needed last-out relief help from Don Aase, who allowed a single that scored the final Royals run (charged to McGregor).
McGregor wasn't immediately thrilled with Weaver coming to take him out, but said later, "I was tired enough so the ball started sinking. But to try and finish out there in that heat was probably a stupid idea. But at the time I figured if Freddie could hold out, I could stay out there."