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American League Roundup : Orioles Take Off Behind Murray, Ripken

There are at least two signs that the Baltimore Orioles are ready to make a run at the pennant in the American League East. The signs are the bats of Eddie Murray and Cal Ripken.

The dynamic duo has been the scourge of the league for the past three seasons. But until just recently, only the Ripken part of the devastating one-two punch had been functioning at its best. Deaths of two people close to the slugging first baseman probably contributed to Murray’s slow start.

Once again Murray is swinging a hot bat and the Orioles are within striking distance of the Toronto Blue Jays.

Murray was 4 for 4 Sunday at Baltimore, drove in three runs and led the Orioles to a 10-1 victory over the Oakland A’s. Ripken had three hits and scored three runs, and Wayne Gross hit two home runs to enable Scott McGregor to breeze to his fourth victory.

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After the Orioles had played 31 games, Murray, who missed five games because of the death of his sister, was batting only .238 with just 17 runs batted in.

In the last 16 games, while batting .400 (24-60), Murray has driven in 17 runs. He has raised his average to .292.

“When Eddie hits it seems to make all of us better hitters,” said Gross, who snapped a 3-for-34 slump with the two home runs. “When he starts to hit, he says, ‘Jump on my back, guys and I’ll carry you for a month.’ ”

Ripken is hitting .283 and leads the Orioles with 9 home runs and 35 RBIs.

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Another sign the Orioles are ready to make a move is the return to form of McGregor. After his first seven starts this season, McGregor was 1-4 and had an earned-run average of 7.92. He lost his chance for consecutive shutouts when Dwayne Murphy hit a home run in the seventh inning. But, he has pitched three sharp games in a row.

“I’m getting good action on my ball,” McGregor said. “That’s the main thing. The strength is back in an arm that was weak last year. The exercise has helped, but when you struggle you know eventually you’ll come out of it.”

Seattle 7, New York 6--Manager Chuck Cottier blew his top in the third inning at New York but he may have provided the diversion that the Mariners needed to break a three-game losing streak and end the Yankees’ 12-game win streak at home.

With the Mariners leading, 4-2, Cottier, incensed because Dave Winfield was not called out on strikes on a checked-swing on a 3-2 count, got himself ejected. Before departing, Cottier uprooted first base and threw it into right field. Then, he threw four bats and four helmets out of the dugout to virtually assure himself of a fine.

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“Before I could get to the base there was 240 pounds on it,” Cottier said. “I politely asked Winfield to step off the base.”

As for the game itself, Alvin Davis drove in three runs and pinch-hitter Al Cowens homered in the seventh to give the Mariners their final run.

Don Mattingly hit a two-run home run to get the Yankees within a run in the bottom of the seventh, but Karl Best came in to pitch 2 scoreless innings for his third save. The two runs batted in gave Mattingly a major league-leading total of 44.

Minnesota 5, Milwaukee 4--Bob Gibson’s low slider didn’t slide quite low enough and Mike Stenhouse hit it out in the eighth inning at Minneapolis to end the Twins’ 10-game losing streak.

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“I’m a low-ball hitter and I just golfed it out,” said Stenhouse after his two-run homer brought the Twins from behind.

Stenhouse has not been seeing much action, because he has been in a deeper slump than even his slumping teammates. When he came up with two out and Kent Hrbek on second in the eighth, he was 1 for 26.

Stenhouse’s third home run enabled Ken Schrom, who pitched a five-hitter, to win his fourth.

Cleveland 5-2, Toronto 4-5--Shocked by losing the opener of a rare major league doubleheader at Toronto when their best pitcher, Dave Stieb, couldn’t hold a 4-2 lead in the ninth, the Blue Jays made quick work of the Indians in the nightcap.

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George Bell and Lloyd Moseby each doubled in a run in a four-run first inning that assured the Blue Jays a split and a 4 1/2-game lead in the East.

The Blue Jays seemed a cinch to win for the 11th time in 12 games in the opener. They still weren’t worried when the Indians loaded the bases with two out in the ninth. But Jerry Willard, a .160 hitter, cleared the bases with a ringing double into the gap in right-center.

Chicago 4, Kansas City 1--The hot bat of Greg Walker has the White Sox on a roll and in second place in the West.

Walker hit a three-run home run in the first inning to cap a four-run rally that sent the White Sox on their way to their fifth win in a row and a sweep of the four-game series with the Royals.

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Walker’s single in the eighth inning Saturday night drove in the winning run in that game.

The only consolation for the Royals was that Carlton Fisk, with five home runs in the last four games, didn’t hit another. He sat out the game.

Boston 12, Texas 3--Jim Rice had four hits, including his 10th home run to lead the Red Sox’s assault on the Rangers at Boston. Rice scored three runs and drove in three to pace an 18-hit attack.

Wade Boggs, Steve Lyons, Bill Buckner and Marty Barrett all had two hits, while Rick Miller had three singles.

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Bruce Hurst gave up home runs to Larry Parrish in the first and third innings to account for all the Ranger runs, but he struck out eight in eight innings.


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