BALTIMORE, JULY 21 -- The Baltimore Orioles' patient fans waited a long time to see the first start by Ben McDonald, the highly touted No. 1 draft pick of 1989. Tonight, the 6-foot-7 right-hander made it worth the wait.
McDonald threw a four-hit shutout, struck out five, issued only one walk and retired the last 16 batters in a remarkable 85-pitch performance that carried the Orioles to a 2-0 victory over the Chicago White Sox.
Although Manager Frank Robinson said Friday McDonald would not go the full nine innings, there was no reason to send in Gregg Olson because Chicago's last base runner came with one out in the fourth and promptly was erased in a double play. There were no worries about the tying run coming to the plate.
"Yeah, I did say he wouldn't go nine," Robinson said. "But I saw no reason to take him out. I was very pleasantly surprised the way he handled himself. He was able to get ahead of the hitters and stay in control. He was in complete command out there."
"I was glad it finally happened," said McDonald, who had let it be known that he wanted to start, following a diet of six brief relief assignments. "I didn't know if it might be later this year or even next year. I certainly didn't expect anything like this.
"I felt I was ready and I want to be in the rotation. I'm more comfortable as a starter than as a reliever. But a young guy always wants to get in the rotation, so I kind of understood. They invested a lot of money in me and they wanted to be cautious."
That investment certainly looked solid tonight. McDonald was throwing the Orioles' seventh complete game of the season and only the second route-going shutout. He became the first Baltimore pitcher to throw a shutout in his initial start since Tom Phoebus blanked California in 1966.
Chicago's 6-5 Jack McDowell made McD Night at Memorial Stadium one for the pitchers as he recorded a career-high 10 strikeouts and retired the last 14 Orioles in posting his third complete game in the major leagues.
Neither team had a base runner after McDowell walked Mike Devereaux with one out in the fourth, the last 29 batters going out, and the resulting double complete game was the first involving the Orioles since Aug. 22, 1989.
McDowell made a couple of mistakes in the second inning and, on this night, they were enough to cost him.
Tim Hulett started the winning rally by drawing one of the three walks issued by McDowell. He reached second on Bob Melvin's single to center. Bill Ripken came up to bunt and failed, missing once and taking a second strike.
After the count reached 2-2, Robinson flashed a hit-and-run sign and Ripken lined an RBI single to center, with Melvin coasting into third. McDowell fanned Devereaux and, with a 2-2 count on Phil Bradley, Ripken broke for second. Bradley took ball three and Ripken was hung up and run down, Melvin holding third.
Bradley walked on the next pitch and Joe Orsulak lined an RBI double past first base. That was it on the scoreboard.
McDonald was in serious trouble only once, in the third inning. Ozzie Guillen singled to center and reached third on Robin Ventura's single to left. That brought up Ivan Calderon, who had homered off McDonald in September.
Calderon lined a shot toward right field, but first baseman Randy Milligan jumped and caught it for an unassisted double play.
"Moose made a great play," McDonald said. "That gave me all the confidence in the world."
"That was the turning point," said Chicago Manager Jeff Torborg. "McDonald knew exactly what he was doing, but our guy did an excellent job, too."
The White Sox had only one more base runner, Ron Kittle dropping a one-out single in front of center fielder Devereaux in the fourth. Ron Karkovice then rapped a comeback grounder that McDonald turned into a double play.
"He threw everything for strikes and he was pumped up," Karkovice said. "We tried to pick it up, but he didn't let us. It was a shame, because that was Jack's best effort of the year."
As the game progressed, it was obvious that the crowd of 38,819 wanted McDonald to hang on and pitch the complete game. But with Olson warming up in the bullpen, there was reasonable doubt. When McDonald jogged out for the top of the night, he received a huge ovation.
"If I was tired at all, the fans took care of that," McDonald said. "I was walking on air. I just tried not to get too pumped up.
"I was a little nervous before the game, but once the first pitch was a strike, the butterflies went away. I made a couple of mistakes, but I got away with it. I got into a groove and everything went my way."
Of McDonald's 85 pitches, 55 were strikes and only 30 balls. After falling behind early in the game, the White Sox began swinging at early pitches and, as it turned out, made his task easier.
"When you see a guy throwing the ball over the plate with good stuff, you don't want to spot him a strike," Robinson said. "The way he was pitching, they might as well swing and hope."
When McDonald makes his next start -- Friday in Kansas City, according to Robinson -- he will be carrying an earned-run average of 0.48. He has permitted one earned run in 18 2/3 innings.
Before tonight, McDonald's longest effort of the season had been a seven-inning outing in Rochester. Except for the fact he was developing blisters from the slightly larger International League baseball, he might still be there. Now, most likely, he will never go back.