BALTIMORE — In a quiet corner of the visitors' clubhouse, Mike Port sat grim-faced and sullen, taking the Angels' 8-7 loss to the Baltimore Orioles Friday night as hard as any of the players who helped produce it.
Anytime a team blows a 7-3 lead in the eighth inning with its best relief pitcher on the mound, there are going to be slumped shoulders and knotted stomachs. "It's going to make you sicker than a goat," Angel Manager Gene Mauch said.
But for Port, the team's general manager, it was worse than that. All he had been able to do was watch as three of his former employees played out a painful scene before a Memorial Stadium crowd of 34,654.
Welcome to Mike Port's private hell:
--Juan Beniquez, ex-Angel-turned-free agent, greeted reliever Donnie Moore with a pinch single to right field, loading the bases in the eighth inning for Floyd Rayford, who promptly doubled home two runs and pulled Baltimore within two at 7-5.
--Fred Lynn, ex-Angel-turned-free agent, followed Jim Dwyer's game-tying double with a bad-hop double to the backhand side of third baseman Doug DeCinces, scoring pinch-runner John Shelby with the go-ahead run.
--Don Aase, ex-Angel-turned-free agent, entered the game in the top of the ninth and retired California on three lazy fly balls, earning his 30th save while helping slice the Angels' first-place lead over Texas to four games.
Port doesn't always travel with the team. He makes selected trips, this being his second of the season.
He has spent money in better ways.
The Angels are 2-3 since leaving Anaheim Monday, and in this game they pulled one of their better self-demolition jobs of the season.
They built their 7-3 advantage with Brian Downing's three-run home run, his first homer this month, and with the continuation of Bob Boone's mysterious power surge. After managing but four home runs through the season's first 4 1/2 months, Boone has hit three in the last four days, including Friday night's solo shot off Baltimore starter Mike Boddicker in the seventh.
Boone's homer knocked Boddicker, a 14-game winner, out of the game and seemingly set up Don Sutton for his 307th career victory. Sutton had worked five innings and thrown 88 pitches--close to his self-imposed 100-pitch limit--before turning matters over to the Angel bullpen.
And the Angel bullpen proceeded to turn Mauch's stomach.
Gary Lucas was all right for two innings, but he opened the bottom of the eighth by yielding successive singles to Eddie Murray and Jim Traber. Mauch then went to Moore, who had pitched the final inning of Thursday night's 6-1 victory at Detroit.
Moore went through three hitters before getting an out.
Beniquez, batting for left fielder Larry Sheets, welcomed his old teammate with a single. Rayford followed with a two-run double into the left-field corner. Dwyer, batting for Rick Dempsey, then powered a hanging, split-fingered fastball over the head of center fielder Gary Pettis, who had moved in to better position himself for a potential line drive.
Instead, the ball hit by Dwyer bounced over the center-field fence for a ground-rule double, bringing in Beniquez and Rayford and making the score 7-7.
Moore finally got one out--Jackie Gutierrez's sacrifice bunt. Shelby ran for Dwyer, and another out later, Lynn hit his carom shot off the outstretched glove of DeCinces.
"Freddie's hit was tough to swallow," Mauch said. "There's no defense for some of those funny-looking hits they had."
DeCinces thought he had a chance.
"I was planted, and everything was right there," he said. "I was ready to backhand and fire--and from there, it would have been a footrace. It would not have been an off-balance throw.
"All of a sudden, it hit something in the infield, and there was nothing I could do. A lot of guys had been running around third base tonight. The ball hit a rough spot and popped up."
By the time the Angels had tracked down the ball, Shelby had scored what proved to be the winning run.
Moore (2-5) and Mauch alternately accepted the blame for the eighth-inning breakdown.
"I can't be any worse than I was tonight," Moore said. "My split-finger wasn't there. It was up more than usual. That was the pitch Dwyer and Lynn hit, and I consider those the big blows.
"It was getting up and lazy, which could be considered a sign of tiredness."
Mauch second-guessed himself for having pitched Moore with a five-run lead the night before Sutton's start.
"I wish I didn't feel like we had to use (Moore) last night," Mauch said. "There's a probability in Don's games that you're going to need some late-inning outs from someone else."
Sutton has completed just 3 of his 25 starts. Mauch wondered if he should have planned ahead and saved Moore for Baltimore.
Said Moore: "I've got no comment on that."
This game marked the third time in two seasons that Moore has lost in late innings here. Bad memories of Memorial Stadium.
"What is it here?" DeCinces asked. "I don't think Donnie likes this place too much. We have the upper hand all game, and then. . . . "