Almost unnoticed in the mad dash of the Boston Red Sox to the top of the American League East is the return to form of the Baltimore Orioles.
Designated hitter Larry Sheets had three hits, including a home run, Tuesday night at Baltimore to lead the Orioles to a 4-2 victory over Seattle. Mike Boddicker held the Mariners to five hits in seven innings, and Don Aase came in to get his 14th save.
The Orioles have won 17 of their last 22 games and have not gained an inch on the Red Sox. But the Orioles have moved up in the standings. When they began the spurt, they were in fifth place. They are now in third.
Sheets, Aase and Boddicker (6-1) have been instrumental in the Orioles' run up the ladder.
Sheets, the left-handed designated hitter, is having a tremendous season. His 3-for-4 performance raised his average to .336. He has batted only 104 times but has hit seven home runs and driven in 26 runs. He has 21 RBIs in the last 19 games, in two of which he appeared only as a pinch-hitter.
Aase leads the majors in saves and has been almost perfect during the streak. He has given up only one run in his last 14 appearances.
Boddicker has battled injuries all season, but when he has been able to pitch he has done a big job. The Orioles expected big things from Boddicker and Aase, but Sheets is a plus.
Since turning pro in 1978, Sheets has spent most of his career in the minors. Last season he batted 328 times for the Orioles, banging out 17 home runs and driving in 50 runs.
Sheets has hit four home runs in his last five games. "I'm in a groove," he said. "It is nice to have the three guys (Fred Lynn, Eddie Murray and Cal Ripken) ahead of me. It means I will almost always come up with somebody on base. We need to keep winning to put the pressure on the Red Sox."
Sheets' homer to open the fourth gave the Orioles a 3-2 lead, and Lynn hit No. 7 in the fifth.
Boddicker struck out eight. After Jim Presley hit a two-run homer in the second, Boddicker gave up only a bunt single.
Milt Wilcox (0-7) is 4-13 lifetime against the Orioles. He has not pitched a complete game in his last 50 starts.
Boston 5, Cleveland 1--There is no stopping the Red Sox. Don Baylor hit a two-run home run and Mike Brown improved his record to 4-1 with seven strong innings at Boston.
Baylor's 12th home run came in the seventh inning after Bill Buckner doubled and gave the Red Sox their 14th win in the last 16 games. Their 35-15 record is the best in the majors.
Brown gave up eight hits, at least one in every inning, but the only run he yielded was Andre Thornton's eighth home run in the fourth inning. Bob Stanley took over in the eighth and gave up two more hits but no runs.
Kansas City 4, Milwaukee 1--Bret Saberhagen turned in one of his most impressive performances of the season at Kansas City to end a three-game losing streak.
Last season's Cy Young Award winner scattered eight hits and struck out five to improve his record to 3-5. The 22-year-old right-hander from Reseda lost only six all last season while winning 20.
Willie Wilson had three hits, while Steve Balboni hit a home run and a run-scoring double.
In his previous five starts Saberhagen had an 0-3 record, allowing 37 hits and nine walks in just 33 innings.
Texas 4, Chicago 1--The Rangers remained on top in the West because they keep picking on the lowly White Sox. Gary Ward doubled in two runs to cap a four-run third inning rally at Chicago and the Rangers handed the White Sox their ninth loss in the last 10 games.
Rookie Edwin Correa, 20, the youngest player in the majors, gave up just four hits in seven innings to improve his record to 4-3. The Rangers have won five of their last eight, all of the victories over the Sox.
Toronto 6, Minnesota 5--Lloyd Moseby hit a three-run home run in the third inning at Toronto, then scored the winning run on George Bell's single in the seventh.
With two out in the seventh, Moseby walked and stole second. Bell's single gave him six game-winning RBIs and 38 runs batted in. Mark Eichhorn pitched 3 scoreless innings of relief to win it. He lowered his earned-run average to 0.90.
Oakland 6, Detroit 4--Dave Kingman hit a grand slam in the first inning at Oakland to power the A's to victory.
The 16th slam of his career put Kingman in select company. He is tied with Babe Ruth and Henry Aaron for fifth place on the all-time list. Lou Gehrig, the leader, hit 23.
Kirk Gibson, who returned from the disabled list Monday, hit a home run for the Tigers.