Starter Tom Filer didn't allow a run in 5 2/3 innings pitched tonight and Willie Upshaw and Al Oliver homered as the Toronto Blue Jays beat the Orioles, 9-3, for their 11th victory in 12 games.
First-place Toronto, in beating the Orioles for the third time in four nights, pushed Baltimore 12 1/2 games behind in fifth place in the American League East. The Orioles, enjoying a nice summer vacation away from solid baseball, have lost 14 of their last 21 games at Memorial Stadium.
After Baltimore pulled to 5-3 in the seventh, Toronto ended any suspense with a four-run eighth on Rance Mulliniks' RBI single and Oliver's three-run homer.
If the Orioles had one foot in the grave before tonight, it looked as if the entire franchise went six feet under after Toronto executed the clean, crisp rout. The Orioles looked listless and lifeless.
Orioles right-hander Storm Davis (5-7, 5.09 ERA), after pitching two straight complete games, failed to pitch a complete inning tonight. Davis was pulled after two-thirds of an inning, trailing, 4-0.
In 20 starts this season, Davis has allowed the opposition to score in the first inning 10 times. In the first and second innings combined, he has allowed 38 earned runs in 38 1/3 innings.
"Maybe it means we should bring him in in the third or fourth inning. Maybe that's what (Davis) wants," Orioles Manager Earl Weaver said. "I have no idea what his problem is. We know one thing -- none of (his pitches) were hit to anyone. They kept going to the outfield grass and they kept running around the bases.
"I wonder if there's such a thing as a three-man rotation," Weaver said.
For the 35th time this season, the Orioles trailed after one inning. With one out, Ernie Whitt walked and Oliver doubled before George Bell and Upshaw got RBI singles for a 2-0 Blue Jays lead. One out later, Jesse Barfield and Louis Thornton got RBI singles, knocking out Davis.
"Everything we hit in the first inning found a hole," Toronto Manager Bobby Cox said. "Davis could have been out of the inning if one of those balls found a glove and became a double play. I thought he had pretty good stuff."
Perhaps more mysterious than Davis' first-inning misery was Filer's effectiveness. Before he started a game for Toronto last month, Filer (3-0) had gone three years since his last major league appearance. Here was a man with a 3-2 lifetime mark in the majors. Here was a man who had once been traded by the Yankees to the Cubs for Barry Foote. And here was a man who handcuffed baseball's most power-laden lineup, allowing two singles and striking out seven.
Tonight, the heart of the Orioles order -- Lee Lacy, Cal Ripken, Eddie Murray and Fred Lynn -- struck out 10 times in 15 at bats.
But after Filer tired, the Orioles, trailing by 5-0, found a trace of hope against reliever Jim Acker in the seventh. After Jim Dwyer's one-out double and Wayne Gross' walk, Floyd Rayford hit an RBI single on a grounder up the middle.
One out later, pinch hitter Mike Young drove in two runs with a single to right and Lacy followed with another single that nearly beheaded Young and knocked out Acker. Bill Caudill relieved and induced Ripken to fly out to end the threat.
After the game, the Orioles, who usually promote the image of being one happy family in "Brady Bunch" fashion, were in a silent, sulking mood.
Davis was gone when the locker room was opened. Lacy, who normally talks as aggressively as he hits, refused comment after striking out 10 times in 14 at bats against Toronto. Murray, who struck out four times for only the third time in his career, avoided reporters.
Orioles right-hander Dennis Martinez, who has a 7.21 ERA in his last 10 starts, will be dropped from the starting rotation.
Right-handed reliever Nate Snell, sidelined since July 9 with a fractured rib, has been assigned to Class AAA Rochester for rehabilitation. He is expected to pitch for the Red Wings Saturday and join the Orioles next week in Texas.