On a cloudless, warm afternoon, when Fenway Park was again so packed that kids lined up on roof tops two blocks away, the Baltimore Orioles showed a national television audience their own Rocketman.
Storm Davis was going to be Roger Clemens before there was a Roger Clemens, and he reminded fans from Sioux Falls to Silver City of that today as the Baltimore Orioles beat the Boston Red Sox, 4-0, before a rowdy crowd of 33,816.
Davis (6-7) won for only the second time in seven starts, but he was just about perfect, allowing three singles in 7 2/3 innings, the Davis the Orioles dream about.
He left with two runners on base in the eighth inning because a painful hip pointer flared up again, and Don Aase pitched the final 1 1/3 for his league-leading 19th save.
The Orioles' offense, what there was of it, came mostly from center fielder John Shelby, who had three singles and three RBI, and second baseman Alan Wiggins, who had his first game-winning RBI in 315 games.
Davis might not have had the consistent power of Clemens' start for the Red Sox Saturday, but he was around 92 mph, threw 72 of his 94 pitches in the strike zone and didn't come close to walking anyone.
"You can't pitch any better than that," Orioles Manager Earl Weaver said. "He was throwing four pitches for strikes, and when you have that kind of control, you're not going to lose."
Yet, if Davis had lost, the Orioles might not have been surprised. "This season, I've pitched as well as I ever have," Davis said, "and if I were going to dwell on the won-lost record, I'd go crazy. I just don't think about it."
He takes his meals at General Hospital, dines at Hard Luck Cafe, finds solace in the Good Book.
He has pitched at least seven innings in nine of his 15 starts, allowed three runs or fewer in 13 of them and walked three or fewer 12 times.
His fate is that, at 24, he probably won't get his first 20-victory season this season. The Orioles have averaged 3.67 runs in Davis' 15 starts, compared to 5.75 for Mike Boddicker (10-1). Davis already has lost games by the scores of 3-1, 3-2, 2-0 and 2-1.
"I could get upset about the way things have gone," Davis said, "but I couldn't do anything about it anyway. I think it'll all even out, and if I keep us in games, which I've done, I'll be okay."
He won this game by about two feet, which is how much third baseman Tom O'Malley was cheating toward shortstop when Marty Barrett batted with the bases loaded in the eighth inning, an inning that began with Davis protecting a 2-0 lead.
The Orioles had scored in the second inning when Shelby singled, went to second on a wild pitch by Red Sox starter Jeff Sellers (0-3), to third on a groundout and home on Wiggins' sacrifice fly.
The run batted in was only Wiggins' 10th of the season and his first since May 29. He had not been credited with a game winner since August 1983. "It's nice to contribute," Wiggins said. "Driving in runs is not my job normally, but I'll take it."
The Orioles doubled their lead in the fifth when Larry Sheets doubled and scored on Shelby's single.
But in the eighth, Dwight Evans blooped a broken-bat single to left with one out, and after Tony Armas struck out, Rich Gedman grounded an opposite-field single to left.
"The man couldn't pitch anymore," Weaver said. "We were taking it a batter at a time since the sixth because he was hurting. When Gedman got the single, I knew that was enough."
Weaver went for Aase, who immediately loaded the bases by walking pinch-hitter Mike Stenhouse. That brought up Barrett, who hit a low liner between third and short. O'Malley took a quick step to his left, lunged and caught the ball. Aase got the Red Sox in order in the ninth.
"I was cheating a little toward shortstop," O'Malley said. "I didn't think he'd pull the ball, but he did. It just so happened I moved into exactly the right place."
If Barrett's hit had gone through, it could have ruined Davis' best game of the season. Bill Buckner got a first-inning single, and until Evans singled in the eighth, the Red Sox had only one base runner -- Rey Quinones, who reached first on shortstop Cal Ripken's error.
"You can't pitch much better than Davis pitched," Boston Manager John McNamara said. "He didn't walk anybody, and he was getting his breaking ball over. The 3 o'clock start for television made it tough because the sun was in our right-hand hitters' faces. But that shouldn't take anything away from Davis."
The Orioles scored twice more in the ninth off Sellers and reliever Steve Crawford when Shelby grounded a two-run single to right with the bases loaded.
So the Orioles left Fenway this afternoon having won twice in three games to close within seven games of the first-place Red Sox in the American League East. Weaver had said his goal was to play even with the East contenders and the Orioles have done a little better than that, winning six of 10 against Boston and the New York Yankees.
"That's not bad," Weaver said, "but we're seven games out in the loss column -- that's bad. Even as hot as the Red Sox have been, I'd like to be four or five out in the loss column, and that's where we want to be at the all-star break."
This weekend's series drew 104,349, the most the Red Sox have drawn for a three-date series since July 28-30, 1978, when 105,072 showed up for a Boston-Kansas City series. . . . Ripken's hitting streak ended at 17 games.