With the home-run bats silent yet another night, the Baltimore Orioles strung together just enough walks with their seven hits, got a combined four-hitter from Ken Dixon and Don Aase and beat the Kansas City Royals, 3-2, tonight.
Not that it was any sure thing. With another big, noisy crowd (31,417) watching at Royals Stadium, Dixon and Mark Gubicza were in a 2-2 game after seven innings, and the Orioles looked to be heading toward heartbreak hotel again.
That's when something good happened to them. Gubicza (0-4) gave Lee Lacy a leadoff walk in the eighth inning, wild-pitched him to second, then got a pitch over the middle of the plate that Cal Ripken lined to right for an RBI double.
"After the wild pitch, I was just trying to get a pitch I could drive to right and move Lacy up," Ripken said. "He got a 2-1 fastball over the middle of the plate. I didn't exactly drive it, but it did land safely in fair territory and trickle to the wall."
Dan Quisenberry finished the eighth inning with no other runs scoring, but this night, the Orioles had enough.
"That's great," Orioles Manager Earl Weaver said. "Winning one like this is like stealing. It might make up for that 8-6 loss in Chicago. When are we going to break out?"
In winning, the Orioles pulled out their fourth victory in 10 games to push their record back to .500, at 11-11, and remain 3 1/2 games behind the first-place New York Yankees in the American League East.
Dixon wasn't perfect, allowing the Royals four walks and four hits in eight innings. But when he had to be, he was good enough, leaving five runners on base, two of them in scoring position.
The Orioles had some scary moments in the eighth inning when Dixon's fastest pitch was clocked at 79 mph. He told Weaver he was having some numbness in his right hand. Weaver brought Aase in to pitch the ninth and get his fifth save.
"My hand felt like it was asleep," Dixon said. "I didn't have much feeling in my finger tips. I threw a little bit of everything. I walked so many that I couldn't have great command, but I kept them from scoring more than twice."
He picked a good night to be good because Weaver started the game with only two healthy relievers, Aase and Brad Havens, and picked up another when Bill Swaggerty arrived from Class AAA Rochester in the top of the eighth inning.
Ripken and catcher Rick Dempsey each had two of the Orioles' seven hits, but for the second night in a row there were no homers, this from a team that hit 214 last year.
After 22 games, the Orioles have hit only 15, and in two games here this weekend, they've had 17 hits -- 15 of them singles.
The Orioles got a 1-0 lead in the second when Eddie Murray doubled to left and scored on Floyd Rayford's single to center. The Royals came right back for a 1-1 tie. Frank White doubled to left, and after Jorge Orta and Steve Balboni struck out, Darryl Motley singled to center to score White.
The Royals got a 2-1 lead in the third when Rudy Law walked with one out, stole second and scored on White's single to left.
The Orioles tied it, 2-2, in the sixth. Ripken led off with a single, and Gubicza walked Murray. The runners moved up on Mike Young's groundout, and Ripken scored on Larry Sheets' groundout to first baseman Balboni. Murray went to third on the play but was left there as Rayford flied out to right.
"It was a tough pitchers' game, and we lost," Royals Manager Dick Howser said. "Anytime you score two runs, it's tough to win. I just hope it picks up. I think it will."
Reliever Rich Bordi still is suffering from a sore back and was unable to pitch tonight. Also unavailable was center fielder Fred Lynn, who hurt his back running into the wall to make a catch Friday night . . . Lacy's six-game hitting streak was ended tonight.