The games keep getting simpler for the Baltimore Orioles. The reasons are home runs and Don Aase.
Today, on a cool, rainy afternoon at Yankee Stadium, they played another simple one as Fred Lynn and John Shelby homered and Aase got his 16th save to lead the Orioles past the New York Yankees again, this time by 7-5 in front of 26,858 who alternately shook the Bronx with boos, hisses and groans.
When it was over, the second-place Orioles had run their record to 32-20, third-best in the major leagues, won for the 20th time in 26 games and opened up a one-game margin over the third-place Yankees.
Simple days, simple games.
"We're facing a team on a roll right now," Yankees third baseman Mike Pagliarulo said. "I don't think we're in that much of a slump, but they're doing everything right."
This one ended only after the Orioles had opened a 7-0 lead in the first six innings and after Mike Boddicker (7-1) had taken a four-hit shutout into the eighth inning.
Don Mattingly's two-run homer made it 7-2 in the eighth, and Pagliarulo hit a three-run homer in the ninth to make it 7-5, which is when Orioles Manager Earl Weaver strolled to the mound and waved in Aase for the 25th time.
Aase had worked two innings to finish Friday's 5-2 victory and, today, he disposed of the Yankees in style, striking out Willie Randolph on a vicious curveball and Ken Griffey on a 92-mph fastball.
"He's the biggest difference in this team," Lynn said. "We're playing well and getting some big hits but, right now, we've got that guy to come in and shut the door. That means so much to a team. You start believing you're not going to lose in the late innings."
Aase has finished 23 of his 25 games and gotten five saves in his last five games to stretch his lead in the American League to four over New York's Dave Righetti.
"My confidence is as high as it has ever been," Aase said, "and I don't think I'm tiring that much. I actually had an easier time getting loose today than yesterday."
In every city the Orioles visit, reporters come to ask Aase about his elbow reconstruction surgery in 1982 and his remarkable comeback after almost two full seasons on the disabled list.
Today, they had another medical miracle as Lynn played for only the second time in six games after he injured his left wrist last weekend in California. He isn't even sure how he hurt it, but it was so sore the last few days he hasn't even been available for pinch-hitting duty.
That ended Thursday when he took a cortisone shot in the wrist and was ready to play today. The homer was his eighth of the season and, when he plays, he makes the middle of the Orioles' order -- Lynn, Eddie Murray and Cal Ripken -- maybe the best in the game.
He got the homer off starter Tommy John (3-1), who lasted only four innings and allowed four hits and six runs (three of them unearned).
The Orioles had taken a 1-0 lead in the first inning when second baseman Alan Wiggins singled, stole second, went to third on Lee Lacy's flyout and scored on Lynn's groundout.
Then in the third, the Orioles broke the game open when Floyd Rayford singled, and Yankees shortstop Bobby Meacham made the first of his two errors, bobbling what should have been a double-play grounder by Wiggins.
Lacy grounded into a fielder's choice, another ball that might have been a double play if second baseman Randolph had made a good relay.
That brought up Lynn, who worked the count to 1-2 before John got an outside pitch a little too much inside and watched Lynn hit an opposite-field homer to left.
"He has always pitched me away," Lynn said, "and the pitches I took were not much different than the one I hit."
An inning later, John walked Mike Young and made a mistake to Shelby, who homered to left, his fifth of the season and fourth in six games.
That appeared to be more than enough for Boddicker, who allowed a leadoff double to Rickey Henderson in the first inning, then didn't give up another hit until the sixth.
Boddicker survived today without his best curveball, but he compensated with an assortment of sliders, change-ups and fastballs and kept the Yankees off-balance.
"The box score is going to look as if he pitched badly [8 1/3 innings, nine hits, five runs]," Weaver said. "That's a shame because he pitched a hell of a game. He usually does whatever it takes to win. When he pitches, I come to the park thinking we're going to win."
If Boddicker's line is ugly, the results weren't. He won for the seventh time in nine starts, pitched at least seven innings for the eighth time and did what he had to do to win.
"I was tired at the end," he said. "I threw Mattingly a 3-2 change-up, then threw the same thing to Pagliarulo, which got me upset. This is the first time I've pitched with three days' rest, but the real reason is that I was trying to get Aase another save. That's why I gave up the homer, to make it close enough that Donnie could get another save. I talked to him about it before the game. If you're going to win the Cy Young, you have to get one every chance you can."
Floyd Rayford got a second straight start at third base and continued his resurgence with a second straight two-hit game. In two games here, he has raised his average from .122 to .156 . . . The news on reliever Nate Snell isn't good. He awoke this morning to find his right foot more swollen than it was Friday and now definitely won't join the Orioles Sunday here and may not come to Milwaukee. He suffered a bruise when hit by a line drive Thursday.