Mike Boddicker had another rocky horror night, not his first in a stretch that has started to resemble his 1985 disaster.
Boddicker, who went 12-17 with a 4.07 ERA last season, lasted only 5 2/3 innings and lost for the fourth time in five starts tonight as the Chicago White Sox got nine hits and five runs off him and beat the Baltimore Orioles, 6-3, before 30,392 at Comiskey Park.
The loss kept the Orioles (46-40) strapped in fourth place and dropped them right back where they have been most of the last two weeks, 10 games behind Boston in an American League East race that may not develop into a race at all.
As troubling as that deficit is Boddicker, who has gone 1-4 with a 7.34 ERA since a 10-1 start. In a little more than two weeks, his ERA has crept from 3.48 to 4.44, worst among the Orioles' five starters.
Not only that, Boddicker's chronically sore right elbow bothered him so much tonight that Orioles Manager Earl Weaver had relievers warming up three times early in the game.
"I just hope it gets better over the all-star break," Weaver said. "It was bothering him, but he said he could get by. He's the kind that would tell you that no matter what."
Tonight, Boddicker pitched well for five innings, taking a five-hitter and 2-1 lead into the sixth when the White Sox scored four runs and handed him another early exit.
Chicago right fielder Harold Baines got four of the White Sox' 13 hits, but six players got RBI hits.
"I got a few pitches up all night," Boddicker said. "I just wasn't that sharp, especially in that one inning the sixth . Before that, I wasn't sharp, but I was good enough to get by."
Three Chicago pitchers limited the Orioles to eight hits, with reliever Gene Nelson (5-4) going 3 2/3 innings for the victory and Dave Schmidt pitching 2 2/3 innings for his fifth save.
In the end, the Orioles lost this game an inch at a time. The White Sox scored a first-inning run when first baseman Juan Beniquez dived for a grounder. He didn't get it, but he got enough of it to bat it away from second baseman Juan Bonilla, who was in position to make the play.
Then in the sixth, Boddicker left with the Orioles trailing, 4-2, and reliever Brad Havens allowed the fifth run off Boddicker to score.
And in the ninth, the Orioles had two runners on base and two out when Cal Ripken lined a ball into right field that Baines chased down, dived and caught.
"One helluva play," Weaver said. "I just watched the replay, and the ball kept spinning away from him. You never know what's going to happen on a play like that. Those are the kind that win you games."
Chicago Manager Jim Fregosi said, "I guess he had his all-star night. It only tops off his four-for-four performance with a great catch to end the game. He is quite a professional player. He just goes about his business."
The White Sox took a 1-0 lead in the first inning when leadoff man John Cangelosi singled, stole second and scored on Baines' single, the hit that ticked off Beniquez's glove.
The Orioles took a 2-1 lead in the top of the third when Tom O'Malley grounded a one-out double down the right field line. Lee Lacy walked, but Fred Lynn flied out to center for the second out. Ripken dumped a single to center to score O'Malley, and Jim Dwyer doubled to right to score Lacy.
Even though only a couple of the balls were hit hard that inning, Fregosi took out Joel Davis and brought in Nelson, who shut out the Orioles for 3 1/3 innings before getting knocked out in the seventh.
Meanwhile, Boddicker retired the White Sox in order in the second, third and fifth inning and worked out of trouble in the fourth.
But in the sixth, the White Sox knocked out Boddicker by sending eight men to the plate and scoring four times for a 5-2 lead.
Ozzie Guillen got a leadoff single and went to third on Baines' double. Greg Walker scored Guillen on a groundout, and Baines scored on Jerry Hairston's double. Boddicker struck out Tim Hulett for the second out, but Steve Lyons grounded a single to right to score Hairston and make it 4-2.
"The only pitch I'd really like to have back is the one to Baines," Boddicker said. "Other than that, they were just groundballs I couldn't guide."
Weaver brought in Havens, and Lyons stole second and scored on Julio Cruz's single to left to make it 5-2.
The Orioles made it 5-3 in the seventh when O'Malley walked, went to second on Lacy's groundout and scored on Lynn's single to center. Fregosi brought in Schmidt, who got Ripken on a grounder and Dwyer on a strikeout to end the seventh.
Hulett's sixth homer made it 6-3 in the eighth, and Weaver brought in Odell Jones to finish that inning.
Weaver went to great lengths today to dispute a Sports Illustrated report that he had decided to resign after this season and that he was unhappy with the way the Orioles are being run. "That's not even out of context," he said. "That's an out-and-out lie." . . . Storm Davis, who is eligible to come off the disabled list next Saturday, will pitch batting practice Monday at Class A Hagerstown. He is not scheduled to make his next start until July 23 . . . Because of Boddicker's sore elbow, Ken Dixon will start the first game after the all-star break Thursday. Boddicker will be moved to Friday . . .
The Orioles didn't score a first-inning run for the 21st straight game . . . The Orioles are 30-18 against the AL West, 16-22 vs. the AL East . . . First baseman Eddie Murray didn't start for the sixth straight game and continues to take treatment for a pulled left hamstring . . .
Weaver started John Shelby in left field instead of Mike Young, who is hitting .179 since June 9 and hasn't hit a homer since June 16 . . . The Orioles entered tonight's game hitting .291 on this trip.