It's only one game in July, and the victory still leaves the Baltimore Orioles 10 1/2 games out of first place in the American League East.

But Storm Davis' complete-game seven-hitter tonight before 36,239 in Comiskey Park was of great significance to Davis and the Orioles.

Davis, who had lost his last four starts and hadn't won a game since June 14, allowed just one run tonight in Baltimore's 9-1 victory over the Chicago White Sox.

"It's been a long time since I've walked out of the ballpark a winner," Davis said. "I was tired of getting rapped around. I said to myself, 'It's about time this stuff ended.' "

Orioles Manager Earl Weaver pointed out before the game that the Orioles have too much time left in the season (67 games after tonight) and too many games left with first-place Toronto (seven) to panic now, but only if Davis -- among others -- begins pitching to his capability.

Davis (5-6) walked only two, struck out three and did the bullpen a big favor by pitching his sixth complete game of the season.

He came into this game with an earned run average of 8.58 in the first two innings of his 18 starts this season. But tonight he allowed Chicago's only run in the third, and gave up just three hits the rest of the way.

Certainly, Davis had as much offensive support as a pitcher could want. The Orioles had 18 hits, the most by any Chicago opponent this season.

Four Orioles had three hits. Alan Wiggins ended the game with three straight, giving him seven in his last 14 at-bats. Cal Ripken had a single, double and triple to break out of a two-for-27 slump. Lee Lacy and Floyd Rayford also had three hits.

And if that wasn't enough, everybody in Baltimore's starting lineup had at least one hit. Rick Dempsey hit his first home run in more than a month and Mike Young hit his 11th of the season. Eddie Murray drove in two more runs, giving him 75 RBI and leaving him two behind New York's Don Mattingly for the league lead.

But the Orioles had 14 hits and scored nearly as many runs on Friday night and lost because of poor pitching, which is why Davis' outing was so encouraging to the Orioles.

"It's a good feeling when you win three out of four (two of three against the White Sox, the other against Minnesota) and when your guys are getting their guys out," Weaver said.

Weaver did add that if Scott McGregor, Mike Boddicker, Mike Flanagan and Davis can pitch as they did in the rotation just ended, he may go to a four-man roation and drop Dennis Martinez, who would go to the bullpen.

But Weaver didn't want to dwell on that just yet. He was having too good a time thinking about how Davis changed speeds so effectively and got his curve ball over the corners of the plate so consistently after struggling through six rather unproductive starts.

"He pitched intelligently," Weaver said proudly.

Davis' success tonight was a carry-over from his final 6 2/3 shutout innings at Minnesota earlier this week. The change in his pitching was accompanied, even precipitated, by a change in attitude.

"My mother-in-law spent (six weeks) with us and she told me, 'You haven't smiled once in the time I've been here,' " Davis said. " 'If you don't start enjoying the game and the talent God gave you, it will eat you up.'

"So I made up my mind before the Minnesota game that I've got to start enjoying this again. I was so hard on myself after the ballgames (he lost) it would carry over to the next start.

"After the Minnesota game, Earl called me in his office and said, 'I don't want you to think about the second inning (when he gave up five runs). Think about the last 6 2/3.' "

Davis said when he walked out to the mound tonight, "I knew my tunnel vision was already there."

Davis said it has taken him his entire baseball career to learn how to change speeds effectively, but he did it very well tonight.

"I saw a couple of puzzled looks at the plate tonight when I'd fall behind 2-0 and throw that batting practice fast ball for a strike," he said. "And I got my curve over."

Ripken missed hitting for the cycle -- something only two Orioles, Ripken and Brooks Robinson, have done -- as he grounded out in his final two at bats when he needed a home run. But he seemed pleased with the hits he did get.

Asked whether he made adjustments at the plate, Ripken said, "When you're in a slump, you make it longer by making changes and variations. I felt pretty good today, though."