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A John Lowenstein three-run homer with two out in the tenth inning gave the Baltimore Orioles a 6-3 win over the California Angels in the first game of the American League Championship Series last night.
The Orioles, Eastern Division champions, now have a 1-0 lead in the best of five series which resumes in Baltimore this afternoon.
The Orioles led, 3-2, until the sixth inning. The Angels tied the score when Rod Carew singled and Bobby Grich doubled him home. The two teams stayed even until the tenth, when Doug DeCinces singled off of California's John Montague. Rich Dauer sacrificed DeCinces to second, but Terry Crowley flew to center for the second out.
Angel Manager Jim Fregosi then elected to walk Oriole centerfielder Al Bumbry intentionally. Baltimore's Earl Weaver pinchhit Lowenstein, and he hit a two-strike pitch into the first row of the left field stands.
Earlier, California's Dan Ford also homered, giving the Angels a 1-0 lead. Ford later doubled in California's other run.
The Orioles had trouble with Angel starter Nolan Ryan. Ryan chalked up seven strikeouts in the first three innings, including a record-breaking four to open the game, but was touched for two unearned runs in the third.
Baltimore took the lead in the fourth when they scored without the benefit of a hit. Meanwhile, Oriole starter Jim Palmer settled down and was holding the Angels in check.
Palmer was a surprise starter to some, as the righthander, 10-6 in the regular season, had been struggling with arm problems. However, Oriole manager Weaver elected to start his three-time Cy Young Award winner over Mike Flanagan, the 23 game winner who will most likely win this year's award.
Palmer left the game after nine innings, and was replaced by the eventual winner, Don Stanhouse. Stanhouse retired the Angels in order in the 10th.
Baltimore ended the regular season with the best record in baseball, and are favored to win the league. They were never challenged in the East, and outdistanced the second place Milwaukee Brewers by eight games.
The Angels, on the other hand, outfought the Minnesota Twins and Kansas City Royals to win the Western Division in a race that lasted until the final week of the season.
The Orioles last represented the American League in the World Series in 1971, when they lost in seven games to the Pittsburgh Pirates. The Angels have not won an American League championship since they began play in 1961. In fact, last night's game was their first post-season contest of any kind.
The winner of the series will face the winner of the National League playoffs for the World Series championship. Pittsburgh leads Cincinnati, 2-0, after winning two games in extra innings. That series will resume Friday.
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