On a night when the best plays were the misplays, the Chicago White Sox blinked one time too many.
First baseman Bobby Bonilla's eighth-inning error allowed John Shelby to score the go-ahead run in the Baltimore Orioles' 3-1 victory over the Chicago White Sox tonight before 24,851 at Memorial Stadium.
Bonilla's error was the last, but not the only, odd play as the Orioles' winning streak was extended to four games because the White Sox had one runner thrown out at home and failed to get another in from third base with one out.
It was the last oddity in a game in which Shelby's two stolen bases manufactured a 1-0 lead that held up until the eighth inning, and it came only minutes after Carlton Fisk's single off Don Aase had tied the game 1-1.
"I don't know if we deserved any of our runs," Orioles starter Mike Flanagan said, "but that's the way you have to play if you're going to have a good club."
Bonilla's error was also the biggest play on a night when starting pitchers Floyd Bannister and Flanagan were both excellent.
Shelby, who scored two of the Orioles' three runs, led off the eighth with a single off Bannister (1-4) and was bunted to second by catcher Rick Dempsey.
White Sox Manager Tony LaRussa brought in reliever Gene Nelson to pitch to Alan Wiggins, and Orioles Manager Earl Weaver countered with pinch hitter Larry Sheets, who dribbled a ball right at Bonilla.
The first baseman scooped the ball, bobbled it, then threw wildly toward Nelson, who was covering first, allowing Shelby to score.
Bonilla refused to offer an alibi, saying: "I bobbled the ball and rushed the throw."
Nelson struck out Lee Lacy, but the Orioles got another run when Cal Ripken and Eddie Murray followed with singles.
LaRussa added: "I told Bonilla to be sure he understands that play didn't cost us the game. You play eight innings, and a lot of things can change. We had a lot of chances to win the game."
The White Sox left nine runners on base, and, when LaRussa begins to unwrap this loss, he'll see several chances.
The Orioles had 7 1/3 excellent innings from Flanagan, who allowed eight hits. He had runners on base in every inning except the fifth but worked out of every jam.
Bannister, who hadn't lasted more than five innings in his last four starts and hadn't won since April 16, allowed the Orioles only five singles and a walk in 7 1/3 innings.
The Orioles' first run came thanks to a single and two stolen bases by Shelby, who started the game in a three-for-25 slump. But he led off the third inning with the first of his two hits and stole second. Kind of.
He broke toward the base, and Bannister appeared to have picked him off. But when Bonilla threw to second baseman Julio Cruz, he threw on the third-base side of the bag, allowing Shelby to steal the base.
"I was expecting him to throw over there," Shelby said. "He'd lobbed it over there once, and I expected him to again. Eddie Murray had told me those were the toughest for a first baseman to handle, so I took off."
Shelby promptly stole third, his ninth steal in as many tries. And when Alan Wiggins hit a slow bouncer toward shortstop Wayne Tolleson, Shelby broke for home.
He beat the throw. Kind of. Tolleson's throw to catcher Joel Skinner appeared to be in time to get Shelby, but it sailed high and Shelby slid safely between Skinner's legs for a 1-0 lead.
"I didn't even look at the throw," Shelby said. "Skinner is a big guy, and I just went for the plate between his legs. I heard the crowd so I assumed I'd made it."
Flanagan worked out of one jam in the seventh. With Bonilla on third with one out, he got Reid Nichols on a grounder and John Cangelosi on a pop-up to end the inning.
He got a break in the fourth when Ron Kittle doubled with one out, and was waved home on a two-out single by Tim Hulett, who was easily thrown out by Shelby.
"At least, I felt a little better," Flanagan said. "I'm getting back to the point where I think I can throw my curveball any time I want. I think tonight I was making better pitches."
The White Sox finally tied it, 1-1, in the eighth when Tolleson led off with a drive to right that became a triple when the ball bounced off the wall and away from Lacy.
Flanagan got Harold Baines out, thanks to Murray's lunging stop, and Weaver went for Aase to pitch to Fisk. Fisk's single scored Tolleson, who was the 12th base runner Aase had inherited in 15 games, but only the third to score.
It didn't keep the Orioles from winning again, though, and running off their longest winning streak of the season.
"You can do a lot when you only give up two," Weaver said. "The stolen bases are nice. It's good to have balance, but the pitching is keeping us in games."
The Orioles have scored only nine runs during Flanagan's 43 1/3 innings on the mound, and, in five of his eight starts, they've scored three or fewer . . . The Orioles are 7-4 in games decided in the seventh inning or later and have come from behind 10 times to win . . . The Orioles scored five or more runs 75 times last season. This season, they've done it only 10 times in 30 games. They're 9-1 in those games . . . Jim Dwyer's pinch home run Monday night was his fifth with the Orioles. He's tied for second on the team's all-time list with Terry Crowley, Pat Kelly and Curt Motten. Benny Ayala had seven.
Yankees 6, Twins 4: In Minneapolis, Ken Griffey's double broke a 4-4 tie in the eighth inning and enabled Tommy John, 42, to earn the 261st victory of his career.
With one out in the eighth, Dave Winfield reached on third baseman Gary Gaetti's error, stole second and went to third on catcher Tim Laudner's throwing error. Then Griffey doubled off the right-center field fence against Bert Blyleven (3-3).
John, 2-0 since signing as a free agent May 2, moved past Ted Lyons into 31st place on the all-time victory list. He started the seventh with a three-hitter and a 4-1 lead.
Ron Washington, just back from the minors, had the Twins' first three hits, including a homer that provided a 1-0 lead.
Indians 3, Rangers 2: Pat Tabler's home run off Texas reliever Greg Harris with two outs in the 10th inning in Cleveland ended the Indians' four-game losing streak.
The homer to left field, his third, was only the second hit off Harris (2-5) in 2 2/3 innings of relief.
Rich Yett (2-0) got the victory, striking out four in 2 1/3 innings of two-hit relief.
Angels 5, Red Sox 4: Rookie Wally Joyner hit his 13th homer and drove in his 34th and 35th runs in the victory in Anaheim, Calif. He's had four homers in his last three games.
Royals 4, Tigers 2: Hal McRae's two-run home run off Willie Hernandez (1-2) with one out in the 11th inning won the game in Kansas City, Mo.
Steve Balboni had homered off Hernandez in the ninth for a 2-2 tie.
Jack Morris of the Tigers and Bret Saberhagen of the Royals had nearly matched pitch for pitch. Morris allowed four hits in eight innings, striking out nine and walking four walks. Saberhagen gave up eight hits and struck out seven while walking two in nine innings.
Mariners 8, Brewers 5: In Seattle, Danny Tartabull's four hits included two triples. His two RBI, coupled with Pete Ladd's 3 1/3 scoreless innings, beat Milwaukee.
Tartabull tripled and scored the first run of the game in the first inning. When he tripled in the eighth to drive in two runs he was thrown out trying to stretch it.
The Mariners got the first triple play of the season. Morgan started the bottom of the first by walking Randy Ready and Ernest Riles. Cecil Cooper grounded to first baseman Alvin Davis, who threw to shortstop Domingo Ramos at second base, forcing Riles. Morgan was late covering first on the relay and Cooper was safe as Ready rounded third.
Morgan threw to catcher Bob Kearney, who ran Ready back toward third and tagged him. Kearney then threw to second baseman Tartabull, who tagged Cooper trying to advance from first.
A's 6, Blue Jays 3: Dave Kingman hit a three-run homer off Dennis Lamp with one out in the 10th inning in Oakland. He had gone hitless in 12 previous trips before putting the first pitch Lamp (0-3) threw him over the left-center field fence for his seventh homer, breaking a three-game Oakland losing streak.