Floyd Bannister's eighth inning tonight could be used as an instructional film on how not to pitch in the major leagues.
Bannister had allowed only three hits all night, and had struck out the first two hitters in the eighth. But the Chicago pitcher then walked three Baltimore hitters -- the last two on four pitches each -- to get to Eddie Murray.
Then he threw Murray a strike. Murray hit it off the facing of the Comiskey Park upper deck in left field for his 11th career grand slam to give Baltimore a 5-1 victory over the White Sox as many in the crowd of 17,275 booed Bannister viciously.
Murray's slam -- his 16th home run of the season -- made a winner of Mike Flanagan, who threw a three-hitter over eight innings to get his first victory since Sept. 20.
Before Murray's blast, there were only five hits in the game. Neither team had a hit until the fourth inning.
"He had just walked two guys (on eight pitches), so he's gotta throw something to try to get ahead," Murray said. "He just got the fastball on the inner half of the plate."
Sammy Stewart came on for Baltimore to finish the ninth inning for Flanagan, who was making his second start of the season after returning from an offseason Achilles' tendon injury.
Flanagan (1-1) allowed two doubles in the fifth, which accounted for Chicago's only run, and a single in the eighth.
It was the kind of pitching effort the Orioles have been looking for to help get their season turned around.
"Shades of the old pitching," Murray said, referring not only to Flanagan's 96-pitch effort but Stewart's relief and Mike Boddicker's victory the night before in Minnesota.
"You hope something like this can trigger the whole staff," said Murray, who trails AL RBI leader Don Mattingly by just four with 71. "You're really out there hoping for a shutout, just to see what that would do for the staff."
Flanagan's performance tonight was as good as a shutout. In fact, it would have been a shutout if Carlton Fisk's ugly bloop double -- which ruined Flanagan's no-hitter to start the fifth -- hadn't preceded a Greg Walker double that tied the game, 1-1.
Walker could have been out a couple of pitches earlier but his wind-blown foul pop fly barely eluded the chase of Gary Roenicke in left field.
And Lee Lacy said he should have caught Walker's hit to right. But the field was a miserable sop from an all-day rain -- or as Baltimore's Alan Wiggins called it, "marshy."
Even so, Wiggins and John Shelby made two magnificent defensive plays that kept Flanagan and the Orioles from falling behind.
Wiggins not only ended Bannister's no-hitter in the fourth with a double and scored an unearned run two errors later, but he made a diving stop of a Julio Cruz grounder in the fifth to prevent a Chicago runner from scoring from third, which would have given the White Sox a 2-1 lead.
"I'm just glad it hit the dirt first," Wiggins said. "I dove, but the ball popped up some and made it easier."
There was no easy element to Shelby's sloshing, diving, water-skiing catch of a Luis Salazar's sinking line drive to center in the eighth, which would have scored a Chicago runner from second.
Flanagan said of Shelby's play: "I don't think I've ever seen a catch like that. Slip and slide."
Lacy said that even though Shelby -- who replaced ailing Fred Lynn in the lineup tonight -- is the team's best defensive outfielder, "I didn't think he could get to that."
From there, not knowing what Murray would deliver, it was up to Flanagan, who lost his only previous start -- last week to Kansas City.
"Last time, my arm, Achilles, my legs, all of that was ready," Flanagan said. "But I wasn't ready, game-head-wise -- knowing what to do with the count, or batters the second and third times around. When you've pitched this long, though, it shouldn't take four or five games to know how to adjust. Hopefully, you can adjust in one.
"I wanted to stay ahead in the count and not walk anybody (he walked one, struck out three). I had a great curve ball in the bullpen, so that was the pitch I was going to go to early."
Flanagan said he was prepared to stay and go the distance. But Weaver already had Stewart warmed up and didn't want to waste a ready arm.
The Orioles were quite happy to get the victory, especially since Toronto won its fifth straight to stay 9 1/2 games ahead of them in the American League East.
But a deeper hope in the Orioles' locker room was that Flanagan's performance would inspire the beleaguered pitching staff.
"It was such a good game to win," Wiggins said. "I'd like to think it was contagious to see Mike come off an injury and pitch like he did tonight. It might make Denny (Martinez) bear down harder (Friday night) and keep it going."