Solid pitching and late offensive heroics were some of the trademarks of past Baltimore Orioles clubs, and this team showed some of that tonight by beating the Chicago White Sox, 4-3, in front of 16,609 in Memorial Stadium.
"That's the way we used to win games," said Jim Dwyer, who hit a one-out, pinch-hit home run off Bob James to tie the game, 3-3, in the ninth before Lee Lacy singled home Mike Young with the game-winner. "We've won the last two games including Sunday's 4-3 win over Kansas City like we used to win them all the time. Maybe now that we know we can do it, we can build some confidence."
Dwyer's shot to center field tied the game just after it appeared that the Orioles would go home losers. With one out in the top of the ninth, Harold Baines hit his seventh home run of the year to right field for a 3-2 White Sox lead.
Then, with one out in the last of the ninth, Dwyer pinch-hit for Floyd Rayford.
"Give him credit," said James (1-3). "He did his job, I didn't do mine. Tomorrow's another day."
Asked if he knew it was gone, Dwyer said, "It's been so long since I hit one good, I didn't know what it felt like."
After Dwyer's blast, Young pinch-hit for Rick Dempsey and walked. Alan Wiggins laid down a sacrifice bunt that James fielded, but he had only a play at first. That left Young at second with two out and Lacy up.
Lacy smacked a single through the hole into left field. But the ball wasn't that deep, and left fielder Reid Nichols came up throwing.
Young rounded third -- "Take the shot," said third base coach Cal Ripken Sr. -- and came home with a head-first slide. Nichols' throw forced Carlton Fisk toward first base, and Young got a hand in just before the tag.
"The throw really wasn't that far off line, but I saw that he had to go out and receive the ball and that it was going to take some time for him to come back and make the tag," Young said. "I don't like sliding head first, because you can get hurt. But I knew that if did I could get one of my hands over the plate."
Fisk, who started his third game behind the plate, said, "I went to get the ball and came back as soon as I could. I thought I had him."
The Orioles (15-14) have won three straight, which ties their longest winning streak of the season. This is the first time since April 29 that the Orioles have had been above .500.
But, then, as Manager Earl Weaver said, "I'd just like a one-game winning streak tomorrow night." Then the Orioles will send Mike Flanagan (1-4, 4.75 ERA) to the mound against Floyd Bannister (1-3, 3.55).
Scott McGregor kept the Orioles close, though he did look like the loser when he surrendered Baines' home run in the ninth.
"Scotty pitched pretty well," Weaver said. "The bugaboo's the long ball . . . If we can cut down on that, he'll win a lot of games. We've got to go over Baines the next time he faces him."
McGregor, who was relieved by Rich Bordi (1-0) after Baines' homer, lasted 8 2/3 innings. He allowed seven hits, three earned runs, walked none and struck out two. He also gave up a homer to Wayne Tolleson, who has hit three of his six major league homers off McGregor.
"This was a big win," McGregor said. "It felt real good and the pitchers have just got to keep us going. The team's playing well. We just have to keep it close, play good defense and come from behind."
McGregor took care of business smartly in the second, getting Fisk on a popup to Murray at first and Nichols and Ron Kittle on ground balls to second.
Just as smoothly, the Orioles took a 2-0 lead in the bottom of the second.
Cal Ripken led off the inning by walking on four pitches. Up came Larry Sheets, the team's hottest hitter. And White Sox starter Tom Seaver made a critical error in a pitch he made to Sheets.
The mistake -- a first-pitch, low fastball right down the middle -- landed about 20 rows deep in the right field bleachers. Almost as soon as he let go of the pitch, Seaver put his head down, seeming to know his fate. Baines, the right fielder, took two steps and stopped.
Sheets -- who twice had the bases loaded later and failed to drive a run home -- is leading the Orioles in hitting with a .367 average after going one for three tonight.
Neither Seaver nor McGregor had any difficulty in the fourth, but Fisk almost cut the Baltimore lead in half to lead off the fifth.
The White Sox catcher (once again) sent a McGregor pitch deep to left, but John Shelby calmly jumped and caught the ball about six inches above the fence for an out.
The White Sox finally got to McGregor in the seventh. John Cangelosi knocked one into left field and was held to a single by the strong arm of Shelby. But in a moment, Shelby's sound fundamental play would be lost. Tolleson got a 1-0 pitch up into the wind, and it landed on the far side of the left-center field fence to tie the game, 2-2. It was Tolleson's second homer of the year.
The rally appeared as though it would continue when Lacy misplayed a line drive hit to him by Baines. The ball went over Lacy's head and bounced off the wall for a double. Baines moved to third on Fisk's ground ball to shortstop. That left Baines at third with one out. But McGregor struck out Nichols on a pitch low and outside and induced Kittle to pop out to first base.