CHICAGO, JULY 22 -- Stephen King writes their scripts one month, Disney the next. For the Baltimore Orioles this was a Magic Kingdom night, a 10-5 victory over the Chicago White Sox and an end to their best road trip in more than 22 years.
They extended their winning streak to eight games, doing it on a night when Mike Boddicker was terrible but rookie John Habyan was almost perfect. All of which was only part of the story:With four victories at Kansas City and three at Comiskey Park, the Orioles' 7-0 road trip matched their best undefeated trip ever. They also were 7-0 on a trip in 1965, beating the Washington Senators once and the Boston Red Sox and New York Yankees three times each. As a point of reference, their winning pitchers on that trip were Dick Hall (twice), Wally Bunker, Stu Miller, Harvey Haddix, Milt Pappas and Dave McNally.Their eight-game winning streak is their longest since a 10-game streak in 1982.They finished their Comiskey Park play for the season 6-0, the first sweep of the White Sox by a visitor since the 1978 Yankees. They ran their road record (in contrast to their 16-29 home mark) to a very respectable 26-24.
The Orioles' best this night came from the 23-year-old Habyan (2-3), who got his fourth major league victory by pitching 6 2/3 innings of one-hit, no-walk ball. He was thrown into the game in the third inning and immediately allowed a single to Steve Lyons. That was it.
He retired the final 19 White Sox. This night, he was finally the young power pitcher the Orioles have dreamed about, showing the White Sox a 90-mph fastball, a decent slider and an outstanding change-up.
The timing was as important as the performance. He was pitching for only the second time since June 30. And with Scott McGregor returning to the roster this weekend, Habyan was the most likely candidate for demotion to Rochester.
He pitched as the Orioles hounded four Chicago pitchers for 13 hits, including Ken Gerhart's ninth and 10th home runs. They also got a second straight three-hit game from Larry Sheets.
Sheets drove in four of the Orioles' nine runs. Twice he delivered two-run singles after Eddie Murray had drawn bases-loaded walks, and it was his hit in the fourth that broke a 5-5 tie. The three hits raised Sheets' batting average to .333, and against the White Sox, he is hitting .486 with four homers and 12 RBI in 10 games.
Then there was rookie Bill Ripken, on base three times with a walk in the third, an RBI bunt single in the fourth and a single in the eighth. He went 11 for 32 (.344) on the trip, and after his first nine big league games is hitting .289.
Yet this night, Habyan's performance overshadowed all the others.
"That was a super game," said Orioles Manager Cal Ripken Sr., who has sometimes been the rookie's harshest critic. "You can't pitch any better than that. He threw three pitches for the strikes, and he was ahead in the count all night long. I've always thought he was capable of that. That's why I sent him to the bullpen, to work out his problems. He definitely has big league stuff."
As his teammates pelted him with wads of tape, their way of praising him, Habyan said he was aware of his situation.
"My intensity was high," he said. "I wanted the ball. It was pretty apparent that I might be running out of time. You sit out there in the bullpen, and you have a lot of time to think. I got a chance, and luckily I took advantage of it. Really, I had all my pitches and getting ahead in the count was the key. That's no secret. That's what you try to do every time out."
Habyan ended what had been a weird game, with the Orioles scoring three runs in the top of the third and the White Sox coming back with five in the bottom of the inning. The Orioles then got five runs and an 8-5 lead in the fourth, and Habyan didn't allow the White Sox back in the game.
In the third, the Orioles scored when Chicago starter Jose DeLeon (5-9) gave Murray a bases-loaded walk. Sheets then got the first of two two-run singles.
But in the White Sox third, 10 men went to the plate and five scored. "I didn't have such bad stuff," Boddicker said, "but they hit some good pitches."
Among the hits that inning was a two-run homer by Harold Baines on a pitch "that wasn't in the strike zone," Boddicker said. "I was intending to walk him and pitch to Greg Walker." Before that, rookie Ken Williams had homered, and after Baines' shot, so did Ivan Calderon for a 4-3 lead.
When Daryl Boston got an RBI single to make it 5-3, Ripken Sr. went for Habyan. who yielded Lyons' single to right. The runners, Carlton Fisk and Boston, held up thinking that Sheets might catch the ball. They held up, but Lyons didn't, and he and Boston both wound up on second. Lyons was tagged out, and Habyan struck out Williams for the third out and the start of his streak.
The Orioles came right back in the fourth to send 10 men to the plate and score five.
Potential third outs blown on a bad throw by shortstop Ozzie Guillen and failure by first baseman Walker to catch a foul fly fueled the rally, which included three stolen bases. After DeLeon walked Cal Ripken Jr. and Murray to force in the tying run, White Sox Manager Jim Fregosi brought in Scott Nielsen, and Sheets met him with another two-run single. Ray Knight singled to score Murray.
Gerhart homered in the fifth and the ninth.