BALTIMORE, JUNE 24 -- The Baltimore Orioles looked so good tonight you would have thought they were the Baltimore Orioles.
Their fielding was virtually flawless. They hit home runs. But most of all they got great pitching.
Dave Schmidt, a reliever until 15 days ago, pitched a three-hitter, throwing just 94 pitches, 64 for strikes. Cal Ripken Jr., Eddie Murray and Ray Knight hit homers after two were out in the first. The Orioles made no errors and turned one double play. Result:
Orioles 4, New York Yankees 0.
The victory breaks a nine-game losing streak to the Yankees and preserves the Orioles' distinction as the only team with an all-time winning record against New York.
Baltimore fans in the crowd of 31,070 at Memorial Stadium were fairly delirious by the end. It was the first complete game here by an Orioles pitcher this season. It was the first complete-game shutout by an Orioles pitcher here since Sept. 7, 1986, when Scott McGregor pitched a six-hitter to beat the Seattle Mariners, 8-0. And tonight's game took only 2 hours 9 minutes to complete.
"This feels really good," Orioles catcher Terry Kennedy said. "We needed it."
The win ended a three-game losing streak for Baltimore, which started the night with good news. Right-hander Mike Boddicker, who left Monday night's game after 6 1/3 innings because of stiffness in his pitching arm, said he was fit and ready for his next turn, Saturday in Detroit.
He will be preceded in the starting rotation by Mike Griffin, a right-hander whose contract was purchased from Class AAA Rochester. To make room for Griffin (5-1, 3.28 earned run average for the Red Wings), who will turn 30 on Friday, the Orioles optioned reliever Luis DeLeon (0-1, one save, 12.27 ERA).
But back to Schmidt, who raised his record to 8-1 and lowered his ERA to 2.24 by pitching what New York Manager Lou Piniella called "the second-best game pitched against us all year.
"I'll tell you what -- he's pitching as well as anybody in the league right now," said Piniella, who added he felt Bret Saberhagen's two-hitter April 10 was the best-pitched game against his club. "Ask the hitters."
"Well," Dave Winfield said, "we tried to solve him. But when we looked up at the scoreboard, it was the eighth inning and the game was over."
Schmidt, who faced 29 batters (two above the minimum), had only three 2-0 counts; he threw as many as three balls to a batter just once; he threw no more than four balls in any one inning; he was behind in the count to a batter on the final pitch only five times.
"I can't say enough about it," Orioles pitching coach Mark Wiley said.
"I knew I could pitch," said Schmidt, who has given up just 22 hits and four earned runs in 28 1/3 innings as a starter. "I had confidence. I've fallen into a good groove right now. If I can keep getting us into the seventh regardless of what the score is, just giving us a good game and keeping us where we have a chance to win it, then that's my job.
"I have eight fielders out there. I just wanted to keep the ball low and not give the hitters too much credit. I wanted to make them hit it."
Schmidt did that to begin the game. His first pitch was right down the middle and Willie Randolph drove it over center fielder Ken Gerhart's head for a ground-rule double. Gerhart, making his third start in place of the injured Fred Lynn (who is expected to return to the lineup Friday), looked miserable on the play. He got completely turned around and didn't even come close to getting his glove on the ball.
Schmidt, however, picked up Gerhart. After Gary Ward advanced Randolph with a ground out to second, Don Mattingly, making his first plate appearance since June 4, when he was sidelined by back problems, grounded back to the mound. Schmidt ended the inning by striking out Winfield.
The Orioles, who came into the contest batting .209 in their last seven games, picked up Schmidt. With two outs in their half of the first they exploded in a fashion reminiscent of that 22-game stretch in May in which they went 17-5, averaged 6.4 runs per game and hit a total of 51 home runs.
Ripken hit his first homer in his last 10 games. The line drive to left was his 17th of the season and raised his career batting average against Yankees starter Ron Guidry to .444. Murray followed with his second homer of the series, a popup into the left field corner that landed just above the 309-foot sign. It was Murray's second homer in 30 games and third run batted in in 22.
After Mike Young walked on four pitches, Knight, one for his last 21, hit another homer to left, his eighth of the season. It was the second time in this homer-happy year that Baltimore had hit three in one inning. (The first was the game May 9 in Chicago in which the Orioles hit a total of six homers.)
Schmidt retired the Yankees in order in the second, third, fourth and fifth. Only Ward and Winfield came near hits, each in the fourth on grounders up the middle that second baseman Alan Wiggins turned into outs with fine pickups and excellent throws.
In the sixth, Wayne Tolleson hit a grounder down the third-base line for a single. However, he was erased when Randolph grounded into a double play, Knight to Wiggins to Murray.
The Orioles put men in scoring position against Guidry (0-3) in the second, third, fifth and sixth without getting a run. That extended the team's recent futility with men in scoring position to zero for 22.
Tonight, though, it didn't matter. Schmidt closed the game by getting the Yankees out in order in the eighth and ninth.
"It's not like we don't have quality pitchers," Wiggins said. "They just haven't been making quality pitches."