Jim Dwyer's three-run pinch homer in the ninth inning today finished the Baltimore Orioles' strangest afternoon of the season and put the finishing touches on a 9-5 victory over the Oakland A's.
What most of the 16,075 at Oakland Coliseum are likely to remember, however, are not Dwyer's sixth career pinch homer or Rich Bordi's 3 1/3 innings of shutout relief or the fact the Orioles (26-17) won for the 14th time in 17 games.
What they probably will remember are 22 hits, 15 walks, 15 strikeouts, four errors, five pitchers and four homers. Or, as Oakland Manager Jackie Moore said, "Sometimes you have days that are embarrassing."
For the A's, this was one. Three pitchers issued the Orioles an incredible 13 walks, eight of them by starter Jose Rijo, who also struck out nine.
The Orioles got home runs from Dwyer, Lee Lacy and Larry Sheets, but five of their nine runs were scored by hitters who drew walks. What's more, they left 11 men on base, the second time they've done that in a week.
"After it's all said and done, I don't think we played that poorly," Orioles Manager Earl Weaver said. "We got nine runs on 10 hits and hit three homers. That's not too bad. The walks are amazing because we're not a bases-on-ball club."
The A's outhit the Orioles, 12-10, getting 11 in 5 2/3 innings off Scott McGregor, but through all of that, the score was tied at 5 after seven sunny, wondrous innings.
The Orioles won it in the eighth when Steve Ontiveros (0-2) walked Rick Dempsey and Alan Wiggins, allowed Fred Lynn a single to center and had to pitch to Eddie Murray with the bases loaded.
Murray had three walks and a single in four previous plate appearances today and stepped up in the ninth having reached base seven straight times. He is a career .460 hitter with the bases loaded and has 14 grand slams, but this time he lofted only a foul fly to left field. Jose Canseco chose to catch it and the sacrifice fly brought in Wiggins with the winning run.
"You really can't let Eddie have two swings in that situation," Weaver said. "Canseco did the right thing catching the ball."
The Orioles got three more runs in the ninth when Juan Beniquez doubled and Mike Young was intentionally walked, which brought up Dempsey.
Weaver went for Dwyer, who worked the count to 3-2 on Ontiveros before hitting his third home run of the season.
"In that situation, the pressure is on the pitcher because he doesn't want to walk me with the bases loaded," Dwyer said. "He threw me some kind of breaking pitch, but it just stayed there. I wasn't looking to hit it out. I'm thinking about getting a ball to the outfield to get the run in."
The Orioles had taken an early 2-0 lead, then trailed by 3-2 and 5-3 before Cal Ripken's single tied it in the seventh.
Sheets' fourth homer gave Baltimore its 2-0 lead in the second inning, but the A's tied it in the fourth, the ugliest inning of the Orioles' season.
It began with Dusty Baker slapping a ball toward Beniquez, who was starting again at third. Beniquez made a nice stab, whirled and threw wildly toward Murray at first. Baker, who got credit for a single, took second on the throw.
Donnie Hill then beat out a hit and Alfredo Griffin bunted a ball back toward McGregor, who fielded it and threw wildly to Wiggins, covering first.
That second error of the inning allowed Baker to score and Hill to go to third. Bill Bathe's groundout allowed Hill to tie the game at 2, but McGregor got out of the inning by getting Tony Phillips on a fly to left and Stan Javier on a grounder.
Dave Kingman's ninth home run gave the A's a 3-2 lead in the fifth, but the Orioles tied it in the sixth when Rijo walked the bases loaded and Beniquez hit a fly to right.
McGregor needed only a few minutes to give the lead right back. Hill led off the sixth with a single to left and, after Griffin bunted him to second, Bathe beat out an infield single.
Phillips forced Bathe, and McGregor walked Javier to load the bases. Carney Lansford golfed a fastball into center for a single and a 5-3 lead.
Weaver then brought in Bordi, who struck out Canseco and allowed only one runner the rest of the game.
Lacy's second homer closed it to 5-4 in the seventh, and Moore brought in Bill Mooneyham, who walked Lynn -- the Orioles' ninth walk. Murray then lined a single to center and Ripken singled to right to score the tying run.
Mooneyham gave Sheets an intentional walk and Moore brought in Ontiveros, who got Beniquez and Young on fly balls to end the seventh with the game tied at 5.
The Orioles activated reliever Tippy Martinez after today's game and sent catcher John Stefero to Rochester. Stefero appeared in only 10 games and went 5 for 26 (.192). The Orioles now have only two catchers, Rick Dempsey and Floyd Rayford.