Frank Robinson drove in two runs in the top of the 11th, leading Baltimore to a 5-3 win over the Royals at Municipal Stadium in Kansas City.
Robinson’s single made a loser of relief pitcher Steve Jones, who had walked Andy Etchebarren and Eddie Watt to start the inning. Jim Rooker entered the game in relief of Jones, and nearly got out of the jam. Mark Belanger hit a grounder to third which turned into a double play, leaving Belanger at first with two outs. But Paul Blair laid down a bunt that stayed just fair as Rooker and third baseman Joe Foy converged and watched, expecting it to spin into foul territory. Robinson followed with a softly hit ball into center field that allowed both runners to score.
The decisive 11th inning overshadowed a game which was a pitcher’s duel for eight innings before the teams traded single runs in the ninth inning. Royals starter Roger Nelson and Orioles starter Jim Hardin each allowed two runs in the first eight innings. Each pitcher allowed seven hits, although Nelson did walk six batters. The Royals scored first, as Foy doubled in the first inning to drive in Pat Kelly.
Baltimore answered with one run in the third and took the lead with a run in the fifth. Kansas City tied the score in the sixth, as Foy hit a sacrifice fly to drive in Kelly again, following the latter’s double.
The Orioles took the lead in the top of the ninth. Davey Johnson led off with a single and Clay Dalrymple walked. Nelson gave way to Moe Drabowsky on the mound, but the former Oriole hurler allowed a one-out double to Belanger. Reliever Dave Wickersham got the Royals out of the mess with two grounders.
But the Royals staged a two-out rally in their half of the ninth. Chuck Harrison drew a walk, Jerry Adair singled, and Lou Piniella beat out a grounder for an infield single that allowed pinch-runner Tom Burgmeier to score the tying run.
The loss dropped the Royals back below .500, at 16-17. They were now in fourth place in the AL West, 5.5 games behind Oakland.
Box score and play-by-play: https://www.baseball-reference.com/boxes/KCA/KCA196905160.shtml
Today’s birthday: Heath Fillmyer (1994)