SEATTLE, AUG. 23 -- Fred Lynn and Ray Knight were late-inning replacements, Terry Kennedy got the day off and Eddie Murray was in the training room with a bum ankle. So for the Baltimore Orioles, this game turned into the kind that sixth-place teams are supposed to have in late August.

It was a day for Mike Hart's first major league home run and for Ron Washington's first three-hit game of the season. It was a day for Ken Dixon and Mike Griffin again to prove they belong in the major leagues. It was also a day for an Orioles victory as they somehow held on for a 6-5 decision over Seattle before 13,595 at the Kingdome.

It wasn't easy. They sailed into the ninth with a 6-1 lead, as Dixon and Griffin had combined on a four-hitter. But with two runners on and two outs, Orioles Manager Cal Ripken Sr. brought in Tom Niedenfuer, who had to face five hitters before getting the last out (with the tying run on second).

"They just hit a couple out of reach and blooped a couple in," Ripken Sr. said. "I felt Griffin was a little tired, and I wanted to stop it {the rally} right there. It didn't work out that way. But he did get the final out, and when he did, we had one more run than they did."

The victory was the fourth in six games on this eight-game West Coast trip for the Orioles (57-67), and for the first four games, it appeared their pitching was again getting straightened out. But after allowing seven runs in the first 38 innings of the trip, they gave up 19 runs in the last two games here.

Dixon (7-8) pitched the first six innings, allowing three hits and a run in improving his August record to 4-0 and lowering his ERA for the month to 2.67. He hasn't walked anyone in his last four starts, and has thrown 11 shutout innings on this trip. But he was again removed early because his right shoulder hurt.

The Orioles got 14 hits off three pitchers, including eight in 6 1/3 innings off starter Dennis Powell (0-2). Larry Sheets hit his 25th homer, and Bill Ripken had two more hits, giving him five in the last two games here.

The Orioles came here after sweeping a three-game series from the California Angels. In those games, they still didn't hit much, but their pitchers had a 1.20 ERA. Dixon and Mike Boddicker and relievers John Habyan, Griffin, Mark Williamson and Niedenfuer all pitched well, but the best performance was from rookie Eric Bell.

In continuing a remarkable turnaround, he allowed the Angels two runs in nine innings of a 12-inning game. He has a 3.47 ERA since mid-July, and in seven starts in that time he has pitched into the seventh inning six times.

Mike Flanagan allowed three earned runs in 6 1/3 innings of a 3-2 loss Friday, then the Mariners pounded out 18 hits in a 14-6 victory Saturday night.

But injuries remain their biggest concern. When Dave Schmidt was pushed into the starting rotation, their single biggest worry was that his right elbow couldn't handle the extra work. Those fears have all been realized. He was excellent for five weeks, but his right elbow has hurt since mid-July.

He allowed nine hits and six runs in his last 3 2/3 innings and in his last four games has given up 18 earned runs in 19 2/3 innings. Worse, he said today his elbow is "very sore" and that he'll have it examined by Dr. Frank Jobe, perhaps as early as Monday.

Meanwhile, Murray had planned to play despite twisting his ankle Saturday night, but after 90-minutes of treatment and a handful of aspirin, he was still in severe pain. He has been bothered by a sore left hamstring for several days, but said, "I twisted my ankle and Achilles' on my first swing last night. I woke up this morning, and it was hurting from the thigh to the ankle, and it doesn't feel a lot better now."

So with Murray out, and Ripken Sr. holding Knight, Lynn and Kennedy out of the starting lineup, the Orioles were left with something resembling an expansion-team lineup, one that, other than Sheets and Cal Ripken Jr., had a total of 23 homers and 88 RBI.

Offense was already a problem, what with the Orioles first in home runs, but ninth in runs, last in doubles and stolen bases and next to last in triples.

Murray hadn't homered in 17 games, but was at least keeping his batting average up (.274). Cal Ripken Jr. wasn't even doing that, having hit .202 since July 21 to drop his average to .256. He and his father both adamantly reject the idea he might need a day off, but no other player has ever played 8,116 consecutive innings.

"It seems like, whenever I'm in a slump, the streak is mentioned," Cal Ripken Jr. said. "That's an easy excuse. I've been struggling at the plate for a while. I'm seeing the ball all right, and hitting a few hard. That's some consolation, but, when you see the second baseman keep making a diving catch, it starts to get you down. The key to hitting is being able to relax, and you can't do that if nothing is going right."

Thanks to Dixon and Griffin, it appeared the Orioles wouldn't need much offense today, scoring once in the second and twice more in the fourth before appearing to break the game open with three runs in the eighth.

In the second, they took a 1-0 lead when Cal Ripken Jr. doubled to right-center and scored on Mike Young's double down the left-field line. Then in the fourth, Powell (0-2) walked Ripken Jr., who scored on Sheets' double to left-center. Young lined out and Hart flied out, but Washington singled to center to score Sheets for a 3-0 lead.

Dixon didn't allow a runner to reach second until the sixth when Harold Reynolds got a one-out triple and scored on Johnny Moses' infield ground out to cut the lead to 3-1. The Orioles then got three more against reliever Bill Wilkinson in the eighth. Sheets' 25th homer made it 4-1, and, after Young's third hit, a single, Hart hit his first major league homer to make it 6-1.

"It felt funny going around the bases for the first time in the big leagues," said Hart, who came to Orioles in a minor league trade with Minnesota last year and was given a chance when Ken Gerhart got hurt.

"When I got called up, I said it was unfortunate for Kenny, but a chance for me," Hart said. "I know I may not get much playing time, but I want to make the most of my chances."