Not known as a power hitter, Pete LaCock nevertheless belted a two-run home run to provide the Royals the edge they needed for a 4-3 win over Baltimore on Sunday afternoon at Royals Stadium.
LaCock, with a career high of 8 homers in 1976, deposited a Jim Palmer changeup over the right field fence in the fourth inning, breaking a 2-2 tie. His first home run of the season followed a dropped popup by Orioles second baseman Rich Dauer that allowed Al Cowens to reach first.
Baltimore scored first, picking up a run in the first inning. Kansas City starter Andy Hassler, making his first start since April 26, got two quick outs before Ken Singleton singled and Lee May doubled for a 1-0 lead.
The Royals responded in their half of the first. Palmer walked Tom Poquette and Hal McRae to start the inning. George Brett doubled for one run, and John Mayberry hit a sacrifice fly with one out to give KC the lead.
But the Orioles tied the game in the second. Andres Mora led off with a triple. Hassler got two ground ball outs, with Mora holding at third, and it looked like he might escape with the Royals still in front. But Dauer punched a single into center field and the game was tied.
Hassler seemed to settle in after getting Mora for the last out of the third with runners at second and third. He issued a couple of walks but retired 10 of 12 batters before Dauer led off the seventh with a double. Al Bumbry’s single brought Dauer home, cutting the Royals’ lead to 4-3. After Hassler issued a one-out walk to Singleton, reliever Mark Littell got the last two outs of the inning to hold the lead. Littell pitched a perfect eighth before Larry Gura picked up his fifth save with three groundouts in the ninth.
With the win, the Royals improved to 24-25. They moved into a tie for fifth place in the AL West with Oakland. Both teams were six games out of first place.
Box score and play-by-play:
1977 news: The Portland Trail Blazers captured the NBA title with a 109-107 win over the Philadelphia 76ers. Portland had lost the first two games of the series before winning four straight for their first (and so far, only) championship. Center Bill Walton received series MVP honors after averaging 18.5 points per game and scoring 20 while grabbing 23 rebounds in the clincher.
Today’s birthday: Manny Pina (1987)