AL West-leading Rangers Clobber Orioles 9-4

Texas sluggers Toby Harrah, Bobby Bonds, TEX - Toby Harrahand Al Oliver each powered home runs off three Baltimore pitchers, and Doc Medich pitched 7 2/3 innings for his seventh win, as the Rangers padded their lead in the AL West to four games with a 9-4 victory over the Orioles at Arlington Stadium on Tuesday.

Medich (7-3) was assisted with the win by reliever Reggie Cleveland, who entered the game after Medich surrendered a two-out home run to Doug DeCinces in the eighth, which cut the Rangers lead to 7-4; Cleveland caught cleanup batter Eddie Murray looking on a looping curve to end the inning, then pitched a perfect ninth to earn his 10th save, tops in the Rangers bullpen.

Baltimore opened the game’s scoring in the top of the first, when lead-off batter Ken Singleton reached first base on a walk; he then advanced to third on a pair of deep flyouts, then scored when Eddie Murray chopped a base hit high over first baseman Mike Hargrove’s reach for a 1-0 advantage.

But the lead was short-lived, as the floodgates then opened for Texas; seven Ranger runners crossed the plate over the next four innings, highlighted by Richie Zisk’s 2-run double in the first, Hargrove’s sacrifice fly in the second, and Harrah’s 15th HR in the third, a 2-run line drive shot off eventual loser Dennis Martinez (4-14) that just cleared the wall in left. Bonds then put a capper on the barrage with a solo home run one inning later, his 13th round-tripper of the year.

It was baserunner Bump Wills, however, who brought the Arlington crowd to its feet, when he led off the eighth with a triple off left-hander Tippy Martinez; with the pitcher concentrating on follow-up batter Oliver, Wills took off for home, beating the delayed throw from a startled Martinez for the successful steal, good for Texas’ eighth run and an 8-4 advantage. With 76 career thefts to his credit, it was Wills’ first-ever steal of home, and the second by a Ranger this season; Harrah also accomplished the feat on June 9th.

Oddly enough, Harrah and Wills share another infrequent accomplishment: batting sixth and seventh against the Yankees on August 27, 1977, the pair connected for back-to-back inside-the-park home runs off pitcher Ken Clay, only the second time this rarity has occurred in a major league game. “I saw an opportunity, and I took it,” Wills said of his Harrah-tying stolen base. “Scoop was giving Martinez some distractions at the plate, so I figured, why not?”

Harrah also added a single and two walks to his offensive output, knocking in two with his circuit clout, while O’s backstop Rick Dempsey also contributed to the game’s longball festival, connecting for a solo shot in the fifth in a losing cause. The win gave Texas a split of their short two-game series with Baltimore, and a 6-5 advantage in the season’s slate of games between the two teams, which wrapped up with Tuesday night’s meeting.

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