The Baltimore Orioles are doing a pretty good job of turning back challengers these days.
In the last two weeks the Orioles have played their three closest pursuers, each with a chance to overtake the leaders of the American League East. Each time the Orioles have responded to remain in first place.
First, it was the Boston Red Sox, who split a four-game series at Baltimore. Then came the Toronto Blue Jays, who also split a four-game series.
This week it was the red-hot Milwaukee Brewers, who arrived Monday trailing by only a half-game. But the injury-riddled Brewers left Baltimore trailing by 3 1/2 games.
Keith Moreland hit a pinch double to drive in two runs in the seventh inning to bring the Orioles from behind Wednesday night and lead them to a 3-1 victory and a sweep of the three-game series.
Bob Milacki (8-11), who has not received much support in recent weeks, gave up six hits in eight innings to get the victory. Gregg Olson pitched a perfect ninth for his 19th save.
Brewer starter Tom Filer had a 1-0 lead in the fifth inning when Ed Romero, acquired from the Atlanta Braves on Wednesday to replace injured Billy Bates, singled in the run.
Filer loaded the bases in the seventh with one out, and the Brewers brought in left-hander Tony Fossas. Moreland then hit for the left-handed Jim Traber. Moreland’s hit to left bounced into the stands for a ground-rule double and scored two runs. Rene Gonzales hit a single to drive in the other run.
Moreland refers to himself as a hired gun, someone brought in during midseason to hit and drive in runs for a club challenging for the pennant. He did his job.
But he has not been the spark the Orioles hoped he would be. The two-run double gave him only six RBIs in 66 at-bats.
“That was probably another ball I swung at,” Moreland said. “I figured he’d throw a strike and I was looking to get it airborne. I wanted a sacrifice fly to tie the game. Fortunately, it landed where nobody could catch it.
“I’ve enjoyed my time here, but until tonight I hadn’t done much to help. What you play for is to be in a pennant race and I’m fortunate to be thrown into this one. I’m trying to become a part of it and I’ll say one thing about these guys. When they have to win a game, they win it.”
The Brewers felt they were deprived of a run when Greg Brock’s drive in the fourth appeared to hit above the yellow line but was ruled a double instead of a home run.
Oakland 5, Texas 4--Dennis Eckersley, who missed nearly two months with a shoulder problem, earned his 27th save by retiring the Rangers in order in the ninth inning at Arlington, Tex.
Eckersley saved Dave Stewart’s 17th victory. Stewart tied Mike Scott of the Houston Astros for the most victories in the majors, surviving a two-run first inning home run by Ruben Sierra.
Jose Canseco drove in two runs with two singles as the Athletics stretched their lead in the West to three games over the Angels.
Toronto 11, Detroit 4--The Blue Jays continued to keep the pressure on the Orioles after spotting the Tigers a 4-1 lead at Toronto.
Ernie Whitt snapped a 4-4 tie with a three-run home run in the fifth inning, and Fred McGriff hit two home runs to increase his league-leading total to 33.
McGriff led off the fourth with a homer and hit his other in the seventh after George Bell extended his hitting streak to 14 games.
Frank Wills pitched four innings of scoreless relief to pick up his first victory.
Cleveland 5, Seattle 3--Dave Clark’s run-scoring single snapped a 2-2 tie in the sixth inning at Cleveland and enabled Tom Candiotti (12-6) to continue his winning streak.
Candiotti, who is 5-0 and has an earned-run average of 1.52 in 59 innings since coming off the disabled list July 17, worked seven innings, striking out five.
The Mariners, who have lost seven in a row, scored twice in the first inning off Candiotti, but only one was earned.
Boston 4, New York 1--If the Yankees had faint hopes of winning the East, they are probably gone now.
Home runs by Nick Esasky and Dwight Evans featured a three-run sixth inning at New York and the Red Sox dropped the Yankees 10 1/2 games behind the Orioles.
Mike Boddicker (11-9) gave up four singles in 6 2/3 innings and the Yankees’ record under Manager Bucky Dent fell to 1-5.
The Red Sox were without their leading hitter, Wade Boggs, who has a severly bruised elbow.
Minnesota 8, Chicago 7--Roy Smith doesn’t always pitch too well, but he rarely loses. Smith (10-4) gave up nine hits in 5 1/3 innings at Minneapolis and the Twins managed to hang on for Smith’s sixth victory in a row.
Kent Hrbek hit two, two-run home runs to lead the Twins.
Jeff Reardon gave up a three-run home run to Carlton Fisk in the ninth, then got the last two outs.