As the Baltimore Orioles shuffled their roster again tonight, something unexpected happened. The team that couldn't win at home won at home, and the team that couldn't hit homers hit three of them.
Those three homers were enough support for Ken Dixon and Don Aase, who combined on a four-hitter in a 6-2 victory over the Minnesota Twins before 20,317 at Memorial Stadium.
The victory was only the Orioles' fourth in their last 15 games, and they can thank Lee Lacy, John Shelby and Cal Ripken, all of whom homered off Minnesota starter Frank Viola (9-8).
The homers came on a night when the Orioles were, as usual, at less than full strength. Just before the game, they discovered outfielder Juan Beniquez hadn't returned from Puerto Rico. He went there for an all-star break vacation but stayed because, his agent told the Orioles, his father-in-law was sick.
So five minutes after Manager Earl Weaver told designated hitter Larry Sheets he was being sent to the minors on a rehabilitation assignment, he called him back in and said, "How would you like to play first base tonight the first start of his career against a left-hander ?"
To make room for Sheets, reliever Tippy Martinez was placed on the 21-day disabled list because of arm and shoulder pains and probably is out for the season.
Then after the game, the club announced that first baseman Eddie Murray was going on the disabled list for the first time in his 10-year career. He has a pulled left hamstring and was placed on the 21-day list; because he hadn't played since July 9, he is eligible to return July 30.
To replace Murray, first baseman-outfielder Jim Traber of Columbia, Md., (.280, 12 homers, 55 RBI) was recalled from Rochester.
In the mad shuffle, the Orioles (47-41) caught a team in worse shape than themselves. They had only six hits off Viola in 7 1/3 innings, but three went the distance.
That was more than enough for Dixon (9-7), who won his third straight start by allowing four hits in seven-plus innings before turning the ball over to Aase, who got his 24th save.
The start continued a remarkable streak for Dixon, one that has seen him allow four earned runs and 16 hits in his last 33 innings.
"My stuff was less than convincing," Dixon said. "I was inconsistent and getting behind people. To compare my stuff tonight with the start in Chicago would be like comparing me to Gaylord Perry."
Weaver didn't quite agree, saying, "His control wasn't as good, but he wasn't wild by any means. He pitched a helluva game, and I'll take it every time. But in his three starts before this, he had pinpoint control."
Dixon didn't allow the Twins a hit until Greg Gagne singled with one out in the third. Lacy then misplayed Kirby Puckett's fly ball into a double. A walk to Roy Smalley loaded the bases, but Dixon got out of it with just one run scoring by getting Kent Hrbek to hit a sacrifice fly to right and Tom Brunansky to pop to second baseman Juan Bonilla.
Trailing, 1-0, the Orioles tied it in the fourth on Lacy's seventh homer. The homer broke an eight-for-38 slump and was only Lacy's second since his three-homer game June 8 at Yankee Stadium, a stretch of 32 games.
Likewise, Shelby was in a five-for-47 slump when he led off the sixth with his sixth homer to give the Orioles a 2-1 lead. Ripken led off the seventh with his 14th to make it 3-1.
That was plenty because, after the third, Dixon didn't allow another hit until Gary Gaetti's one-out double in the seventh. He walked Mark Salas and Steve Lombardozzi to load the bases, but he got out of the inning when Gagne lined out to third baseman Floyd Rayford, who threw to first to double off Lombardozzi.
"We had one shot at Dixon, and we screwed up on the base paths," Minnesota Manager Ray Miller said. "You have a .338 hitter on deck Puckett and you get doubled off. Both coaches said, 'Watch the line drive.' All you can do is yell at the coaches who yell at the players."
When Puckett led off the eighth with a homer to make it 3-2, Weaver summoned Aase, who retired six in a row for his league-leading 24th save.
In the eighth, the Orioles broke the game open with three runs. Shelby singled and Young walked. After a double steal, Lacy grounded a single to center past a drawn-in infield for two runs.
Left-handed reliever Juan Agosto got Fred Lynn on a groundout, then strategy backfired when Miller brought in right-hander Roy Lee Jackson. He walked Ripken and Rick Dempsey to load the bases and hit Bonilla with a pitch to make it 6-2.
The Orioles assigned pitcher Storm Davis to Class A Hagerstown for a start Friday night in preparation for activation from the injured list.
Mariners 5, Red Sox 1: Jim Presley hit a grand slam with two out in the bottom of the 11th inning to beat Boston.
Pete Ladd (5-2) worked the 11th for the victory. Bob Stanley (5-3) surrendered Presley's game-winner and took the loss. It was Presley's 19th homer of the season and third career grand slam.
Tom Seaver, 0-2 lifetime in the Kingdome, worked the first six innings for Boston, giving up six hits, striking out five and walking two.
Yankees 5, White Sox 4: Dennis Rasmussen won his sixth straight decision to improve to 11-2 and right fielder Dave Winfield threw out Chicago's potential tying run at the plate to end the game in New York.
Rasmussen allowed six hits before leaving after Greg Walker opened the ninth with a single.
Tigers 2, Rangers 1: Larry Herndon doubled home the tying run, then scored when Kirk Gibson drew a bases-loaded walk with two out in the ninth inning in Detroit.
Walt Terrell (8-8) pitched a six-hitter for the victory.
Royals 5, Indians 1: Frank White hit a bases-empty homer to help 1985 Cy Young winner Bret Saberhagen beat visiting Cleveland and improve his record to 5-10.
In Memphis, Royals prospect Bo Jackson hit a 500-foot grand slam in the eighth inning of the Chicks' 12-10 victory over Greenville. The Heisman Trophy winner has three home runs in Class AA and is up to .177 with 11 hits in 62 at-bats.
Blue Jays 8, Angels 5: Rance Mulliniks' three-run homer capped a five-run fifth inning as Toronto won in Anaheim, Calif.
Jimmy Key (9-6) won his sixth game in seven decisions. Don Sutton (8-6), who had won six straight, was the loser