When the Baltimore Orioles' latest loss is dissected, it looks like a cross-section of their shaky season as they take two steps forward one game and two steps back the next.
On this cool, rainy night, reliever Rich Bordi was around the plate once too often, starter Storm Davis wasn't around the plate at all and the result was that the Orioles wasted home runs by Eddie Murray and Rick Dempsey in an 8-6 loss to the Chicago White Sox before 9,575 at Comiskey Park.
Orioles Manager Earl Weaver was very critical of Davis' inability to throw strikes after getting a 4-0 third-inning lead. He was also unhappy with a call by umpire Derryl Cousins. Most of all, he was unhappy with his 10-10 team.
"When it's all said and done, this is one you've got to win," Weaver said, fuming. "If you don't win with six runs, you don't deserve to win."
Murray's fourth homer of the season had given the Orioles a 4-0 lead in the top of the third inning, and with Davis' 1.13 ERA on the mound, it looked as if they might finally win back-to-back games.
But Davis (1-1) went to the mound and promptly walked the bases loaded, handing them to a White Sox murderers' row of Joel Skinner, John Cangelosi and Wayne Tolleson.
There would be a couple more mistakes made this night, but those were the three biggest. They went a long way toward making a winner of White Sox starter Richard Dotson (1-2), who was kicked around for seven hits and five runs in five innings and won for the first time since June 2, 1985.
The White Sox then got three decent innings from reliever Bill Dawley and one from Bill James.
After the walk to Tolleson loaded the bases, Davis (2 1/3 innings, five runs) hung a breaking pitch that Harold Baines slapped into right for a two-run double.
Carlton Fisk's groundout scored Tolleson to make it 4-3 and when Bobby Bonilla's single tied it, 4-4, Weaver went for Bordi. When it ended, though, it was still Davis on his mind.
"This has to be corrected," Weaver said of the walks. "You've got a four-run lead, and they get the tying run to the plate without swinging a bat. It's very discouraging. Nothing breaks your heart worse than that. He should be a better than a .600 pitcher every year he goes out there.
"I hope he doesn't turn out to be somebody with great stuff and is a .500 pitcher. He's going to have to take the bull by the horns and do what has to be done."
Davis didn't alibi, nor did he need to after three excellent starts.
"They were hiding the strike zone," he said. "That's poor concentration. I could give you all kinds of answers, but it was just poor concentration. I just didn't get it where I wanted it."
Still, the game was tied when Davis left. Bordi went to 0-2 on Ron Kittle, who then boomed a two-run homer into the left field upper deck for a 6-4 lead. The homer was Kittle's sixth of the year and the 100th of his career. His last four hits have been homers.
"I wanted him to swing at something high," Bordi said. "I got the ball about a foot and a half low."
This game had further twists and turns in its plot.
Baltimore's best chance came in the fifth. Cal Ripken doubled off the wall in left, but was thrown out by Fisk when he tried for a triple.
That hurt, because Dotson walked Murray and allowed singles to Fred Lynn and Larry Sheets, so where the Orioles got only one run, they probably would have gotten three if Ripken had not gambled.
" . . . It looked like he was safe," Weaver said.
Ripken, who together with third base coach Cal Ripken Sr., had argued the call strenuously, said, "He Cousins said I didn't touch the bag until I got it with my hand. That's not right. I slid right over the bag. I was on the bag at the end."
(Television replays appeared to support Cousins' call.)
That was that. Bordi hit Fisk with a pitch to lead off the home fifth, and a triple by Bobby Bonilla and double by Ozzie Guillen blew it to 8-5.
The Orioles got Davis a 1-0 lead in the first inning on two walks, a single by Murray and Lynn's RBI infield out.
In the third, Lacy led off with a single to center and Ripken walked before Murray launched the home run over the wall in right center.
Dempsey hit his third homer of the season in the sixth to close the Orioles within 8-6. The Orioles had only two base runners after that, and the two-game Chicago start of a seven-game trip produced their usual -- a .500 record.
Mike Boddicker, originally scheduled to come off the Orioles' disabled list Tuesday, won't pitch until May 10 against the Kansas City Royals at Memorial Stadium. He threw lightly again, and while his recovery from a torn ligament of the right middle finger appears on schedule, Weaver doesn't want to take a chance.
"We don't want to pitch him too early and have it swell up," Weaver said. "And also, I've got a semblance of a pitching rotation right now."