Bret Saberhagen barely missed a shutout as he became the first eight-game winner in the major leagues Monday night by pitching the Kansas City Royals to a 6-1 victory over the Chicago White Sox at Chicago.
Tim Hulett hit a home run with two out in the ninth inning to spoil the shutout. It was the sixth time in nine starts that Saberhagen (8-1) has held the opposition to one run or less. He has one shutout.
Jorge Orta and Steve Balboni hit home runs to help the Royals increase their lead in the American League West to 4 1/2 games.
Saberhagen a 23-year-old right-hander from Reseda, is off to the best start of his major league career. Even in 1985, when he finished 20-6 and won the American League Cy Young Award, he was only 4-3 in his first seven decisions. Last season, when he was hampered by injuries, Saberhagen started 2-5.
Saberhagen pitched his fifth complete game of the season and lowered his earned-run average to 1.66. He has pitched at least seven innings in every start.
Thinking that rain would delay the start of the game, Saberhagen said he didn't properly warm up. He had to work out of trouble in the second and third innings, but he was in control until Hulett hit the fifth home run off Saberhagen in 76 innings.
"Usually, I take 15 minutes to warm up, but I think I had only 10 tonight," he said.
"It would have been nice to pitch a shutout, but really, I'm not that disappointed.
"Just like the last time I pitched, I seemed to get stronger as the game went on. A good defense and a lot of runs makes it a lot easier to pitch. Then, too, it helps to have good health again."
Orta hit a drive into the center-field bullpen in the fourth inning off Joel Davis (1-4) to open the scoring. Balboni, slowly emerging from a long slump, doubled in the second run in the inning, then hit a two-run homer in the eighth.
"You have to give Saberhagen a lot of credit," White Sox Manager Jim Fregosi said. "He's a hell of a pitcher. He doesn't beat himself. He makes you hit it right back. He has command of three pitches--curve, change and fastball."
Boston 10, Cleveland 6--Rookie Ellis Burks hit his first grand slam in the fifth inning to break a 6-6 tie at Boston.
The Red Sox gave Bruce Hurst a 6-0 lead after two innings, but the Indians tied it, 6-6, by scoring five times in the fifth.
A single, Rich Gedman's double and a walk loaded the bases in the bottom of the inning. Burks hit reliever Mark Huisman's first pitch over the screen in left for his fourth home run.
Burks, a 22-year-old center fielder who has been in the majors less than a month, was in a 2-for-26 slump when he homered.
"I knew I hit the ball good, but I really didn't think it would get over the high wall out there," Burks said. "I was running around the bases as fast as I could and I never did get into a home run trot.
"The home run was a big thrill, but I'm not trying to hit them. I'm still learning, and every pitcher is a new adventure for me."
Marty Barrett's three-run homer in the second was his first home run of the season.
Hurst, seeking his sixth victory, gave up six hits before he was removed in the fifth. Steve Crawford pitched 3 scoreless innings to get the victory.
Toronto 6, Seattle 5--George Bell let his bat do the talking at Seattle. The Blue Jay left fielder, who does not talk with the media, hit five home runs in four games at the Kingdome.
His two homers Monday accounted for five runs. He broke a 3-3 tie with a three-run homer, his 15th home run of the season, in the eighth.
The Mariners scored twice in the bottom of the inning, but Jeff Musselman came in to relieve Tom Henke in the ninth and preserve the win for Jimmy Key (6-3).
Detroit 8, Texas 5--After eight weeks, the Tigers have finally reached the .500 mark.
Matt Nokes hit two home runs and Lou Whitaker hit a three-run home run at Detroit to lead the Tigers to their 11th win in the 14 games.
Frank Tanana (4-2) struck out six in 6 innings to get the victory. Mike Henneman worked the ninth inning to get his first save.
But Tiger Manager Sparky Anderson is far from being satisfied.
"We're not playing good," he said. "We stink. You can't do what we did out there and win. Our defense is terrible. We keep allowing teams an extra out. We have good pitching, but it can't keep overcoming a poor defense."
Baltimore 4, Oakland 3--Larry Sheets hit a two-run home run in the sixth inning at Oakland and Ken Dixon worked out of a jam in the ninth to save the victory for the Orioles.
The A's loaded the bases with none out in the ninth, but Dixon struck out Jose Canseco, Mark McGwire and Luis Polonia to end the game.
Joaquin Andujar, just off the disabled list, walked four of the first five Oriole batters, but then settled down. He allowed only two hits in four innings.