The Baltimore Orioles have been a source of frustration for Manager Earl Weaver this year. But on his 55th birthday, his team came through in the manner he likes best -- with home runs.
On a night heavy with humidity, the bats of Mike Young, Fred Lynn and Rick Dempsey carried the weight as the Orioles beat the Cleveland Indians, 8-4, in front of 15,814 at Memorial Stadium.
The Orioles have 24 home runs in their last 11 games. They lead the major leagues with 147 homers.
Young, 25, picked up tonight where he left off Tuesday, when he had helped beat the Indians with two home runs. Last night's homer was his seventh in 10 games. It raised his total for the year to 18. He has hit 12 homers and driven in 28 runs in his last 28 games.
Some people are starting to compare him to a young Eddie Murray. Dempsey is one.
"(Hitting Coach) Terry Crowley has done a fantastic job with Mike Young," said Dempsey, who homered in the seventh. "His help has turned that kid around. He was the easiest out in the league the first month of the season. He's on a streak even more awesome than the kind Eddie Murray has, if that's possible."
Weaver said the key to Young's success has been his ability to lay off bad pitches.
"Now, he's taking the low breaking ball," Weaver said. "He's eyeballing it, following it past. That's what you call a hot streak. When Rip (Cal Ripken) and Murray and Fred, too, are going good, they don't make a move until they get their pitch. That's what Young is doing now."
It's become cliche for a hitter to say he isn't trying for the homer when they're coming by the bushel, and Young is staying with the textbook line.
"I feel good," he said with a composed smile. "I go up and I know I'm going to hit the ball hard. It's been like that for the past month and a half. I'm just thinking about hitting the ball hard. I just try to have it in my mind to go up and hit the ball hard. The results speak for themselves."
This was the first series that the Orioles had won at home since Weaver's initial series after his return as manager, June 13-16, when they swept Milwaukee. It also was the first time the Orioles had won two in a row at home since July 11-12.
"Well, it feels like it," said Weaver.
Young gave starter Mike Flanagan (2-2) a 2-0 lead in the second with his homer. Lynn, who homered two innings later, had doubled off Bryan Clark (1-3) to set up Young.
Clark was filling in for scheduled starter Tom Waddell, who had sore ribs.
Flanagan, although he said he never felt very strong, had few problems through the first three innnings, allowing just two hits.
But the Indians tagged him for two runs on four straight singles in the fourth. Hits by Julio Franco, Andre Thornton, Pat Tabler and Brook Jacoby tied the score at 2.
Lynn's 19th homer, to right-center with Murray on after a single in the bottom of the fourth, gave Baltimore two more runs. After Lynn's homer, Young walked and moved to second on a fielder's choice. With two out, Dempsey doubled past Jacoby at third to score Young for a 5-2 lead.
The Indians got to 5-4 in the sixth on Thornton's 10th home run, with Franco on first. That sent Flanagan to the dugout, replaced by Nate Snell, who finished to get his fifth save.
Flanagan said he'd take the win, but not the performance.
"I just didn't have it tonight," he said. "I didn't have good velocity or good location. You can't count on them scoring seven or eight runs all the time. I'm not that pleased with myself, but anytime your team can win, you have to be happy."
While Snell was shutting out the Indians, the Orioles got a few more runs.
Dempsey led off the seventh with his seventh homer. Alan Wiggins then singled to extend his hitting streak to 10 games. He was caught leaning the wrong way by pitcher Jerry Reed, but when Wiggins took off for second, first baseman Pat Tabler couldn't get the ball out of his mitt in time to prevent a stolen base.
Lee Lacy's ground ball moved Wiggins to third. Ripken, who had gone hitless in three tries, singled over a drawn-in infield to score Wiggins.
In the eighth, Gary Roenicke walked, went to third on Floyd Rayford's single to right, and scored on Dempsey's sacrifice fly to left, making it 8-4.
His team was still 13 games back of the Toronto Blue Jays when Weaver was getting ready to leave the stadium. There has been a lot of frustration since he decided to return to managing. But last night there was a glint in his eye, if just for a moment, just to see what it would feel like.
"I'll tell ya one thing," Weaver said. "Detroit won it in 40 ball games last year."