CHICAGO, JULY 20 -- The Baltimore Orioles endured three rain delays totaling 2 hours 34 minutes tonight before leaving Comiskey Park with a 4-1 victory over the Chicago White Sox.
The five-inning game provided the sixth victory in a row for the Orioles, who have followed 25 losses in 30 games by tying their longest winning streak of the season.
They had to persevere for this one, and, for a while, it looked as if they wouldn't. Baltimore got a 4-0 lead in the top of the fifth, then starter Mike Griffin couldn't get anyone out in the bottom half. Orioles Manager Cal Ripken Sr. called for Doug Corbett just as the first rain delay began.
In all, they needed five hours to play a two-hour game.
"That," said Orioles second baseman Bill Ripken, "was the longest five-inning game I've ever played."
After the first rain delay, 29 minutes, Corbett struck out Gary Redus for the first out of the fifth. Then the umpires stopped play again, and a 48-minute wait followed. The game ended when Corbett got Harold Baines to hit into an inning-ending double play that made the game official.
"We were trying to get it one out at a time," Ripken Sr. said. "Then we tricked 'em and got two with one pitch." He downplayed the importance of the winning streak, saying, "One game at a time, one series at a time."
Then with the Orioles batting in the top of the sixth inning, the umpires halted play a third time. After 77 minutes, the game was called.
Griffin (2-3) went only four innings, but, in a five-inning game, that's long enough to qualify for a victory. Corbett produced his first save, and Larry Sheets had two of the Orioles' eight hits. Eddie Murray got the game-winning RBI, his seventh, by drawing a bases-loaded walk in the fifth.
Chicago's Neil Allen (0-4), brought off the 21-day disabled list earlier in the day, was making his first start since June 16. Despite the layoff, he started strongly, taking a 0-0 game into the fifth.
But in the fifth, Sheets got the Orioles started with a leadoff walk after his high foul fell between shortstop Ozzie Guillen and left fielder Daryl Boston. Third baseman Ron Washington -- twice foiled on sacrifice attempts -- singled to left. Alan Wiggins bunted the runners up, and Allen walked Bill Ripken to load the bases.
White Sox Manager Jim Fregosi brought in Bobby Thigpen, who got the second out when Cal Ripken Jr. hit a high chopper to the left of the mound. Thigpen picked up the ball and threw to the plate to force out the slow-moving Sheets.
Then as the first burst of rain hit, Thigpen walked Murray on four pitches to force in Washington, and Ken Gerhart, who entered the game when center fielder Fred Lynn reinjured his right thigh in the fourth inning, singled to center for two more runs. Mike Young singled to center to make it 4-0.
Griffin, very shaky from the beginning, was lucky to be pitching with the wind blowing in hard from left field.
"Hopefully, I won't have too many more games like this," Griffin said. "Everything was up. I was really struggling. I did throw a decent change-up and get the outs when I needed them."
With a 4-0 lead, Griffin couldn't get an out in the fifth. "I think he was trying to rush things and get the game over with," Ripken Sr. said.
Donnie Hill led off with a double, and Steve Lyons singled Hill to third. Guillen singled to center to make it 4-1. Then just as Ripken Sr. waved in Corbett, the first drops of rain descended.
Third baseman Ray Knight missed tonight's game to make a surprise appearance for his wife Nancy Lopez's induction into the LPGA Hall of Fame. The ceremonies were to be held at Tiffany's in New York, and Knight went to extraordinary lengths to make sure his wife didn't know he was attending. "It's going to be an emotional moment," he said before leaving . . .
Ken Dixon arrived from Rochester today and will make his first big league appearance since June 21 Tuesday night against the White Sox. "I'm not coming back with anything new or surprising," he said. "I went down and got the feeling of winning again. I didn't like going out and embarrassing myself, and I was embarrassing myself. I got to the point where I hated people saying I had good stuff. I've gotten my mind off good stuff. I'm just trying to think of good pitches." To make room for Dixon, left-hander Mike Kinnunen was sent to Rochester . . .
Wiggins started for the 14th straight game as the Orioles apparently try to decide about his future. He began tonight in a slump (.166 since May 8). The Orioles won't say it, but the next roster move they'd like to make would be to bring up Pete Stanicek from Rochester and make him the leadoff man/designated hitter. That may not come for a while because owner Edward Bennett Williams is refusing to allow his baseball staff to release Wiggins, which would mean paying off the remaining $1.15 million on his contract. But even if no move is made, Stanicek will be promoted and inserted into Baltimore's lineup around Sept. 1 when roster limits are expanded . . .
Scott McGregor pitched 6 2/3 shutout innings in his last start for Rochester tonight in Toledo. He allowed six hits, three walks and struck out seven.
He'll be activated this weekend and could be in the starting rotation as early as Sunday, although the team now has seven starters. McGregor had a 3.06 earned run average in three starts at Rochester.