The Dodgers are concerned--and well they should be--about their problems in trying to score runs. They struggle to get a run or two or three.
Their problems are nothing compared to the Atlanta Braves. The Braves would settle for just one run.
David Palmer, who entered Sunday’s game at Montreal with an earned-run average of 4.00, is the latest pitcher to foil the slumping Braves.
Palmer held the Braves to five hits in eight innings and pitched the Expos to a 4-0 victory and a shutout sweep of the three-game series.
It was the fourth consecutive game in which the Braves have failed to score a run and they have lost five in a row. The last time they scored was in the ninth inning Tuesday night in a 5-3 loss at New York.
The pitchers who have held the Braves scoreless for the last 36 innings are not exactly the elite of the league. Ed Lynch, Bryn Smith, Bill Gullickson and Palmer had a combined lifetime total of 13 shutouts.
The horrendous slump was unexpected. Before the scoreless streak began Wednesday night at New York, the Braves had scored 108 runs in 24 games, good enough to lead the league. Moreover, in Dale Murphy, they had the league’s leading hitter and run producer.
But Murphy has been held to one single in each of the four shutouts and nobody else has picked up the slack.
The Braves are only 12 innings away from tying the major league record for consecutive shutout innings established by the Philadelphia Athletics in 1908.
The Expos, one game behind the first-place Mets in the East, have held the opposition scoreless for 39 innings. The Braves’ hitting slump in which they made 21 hits in four games, 5 doubles and 16 singles, may give the Expos a feeling their pitching is better than they thought.
Palmer kept it in perspective. “I pitched poorly in my three previous outings,” he said. “So, my goal today was to give up fewer than than three runs. I’ve been giving up a couple runs real early.”
Tim Raines, emerging from a long slump, and Dan Driessen keyed the Expos’ attack. Raines was 3 for 3, scoring a run and driving in one, while Driessen hit his fifth home run.
The Braves were 0-5 on the trip, the first time they failed to win at least one game on a trip since 1980. One of the co-favorites to win the West, the Braves have an 11-17 record and trail San Diego by 5 1/2 games.
New York 3, Philadelphia 2--The Mets’ string of shutouts ended at three in this game at New York, but Ron Darling and Jesse Orosco pitched well enough to extend the Mets’ winning streak to six games.
The Phillies have lost six in a row and scored only seven runs during that span. In the third inning, Mike Schmidt singled home Jeff Stone from second to drive in the run that ended the string of scoreless innings by Met pitchers at 29. Schmidt is having such a tough time that going 1 for 4 raised his average.
Darling (3-1) gave up both runs and six hits in seven innings. Orosco, the victim of the Braves’ two-run outburst in the ninth last Tuesday, pitched the last two innings.
San Diego 5, Chicago 3--First baseman Keith Moreland’s two-run throwing error triggered a three-run sixth inning that enabled the Padres to build a lead and survive Davey Lopes’ three-run home run.
The three-game series between last year’s division champions drew a San Diego record total of 144,259 fans.
Dave Dravecky was pitching a four-hitter and holding a 4-0 lead with two out in the eighth when he lost control. Dravecky walked Ryne Sandberg, gave up a single to Gary Matthews and headed for the showers after Lopes hit his second home run of the season to cut the lead to a run.
Rich Gossage came out of the bullpen to earn his ninth save. Gossage gave up a hit, but three of the four outs he got were strikeouts.
Steve Garvey extended his hitting string to 12 games with a double and a run scored in the third-inning rally.
Houston 10, Cincinnati 5--While most of the teams in the league were struggling to get a run, the Astros and Reds slugged it out for three games at Cincinnati.
The Astros outscored the Reds, 22-18, and won the last two games of the series.
For the second game in a row, Phil Garner came through with the big hit. On Saturday, Garner tripled with the bases loaded in a five-run rally that brought the Astros from behind.
In this game, with the score tied, 3-3, Garner singled in a run in the fifth. The Astros also had home runs by Mark Bailey, Bill Doran and Denny Walling.
San Francisco 5, St. Louis 4--Three seasons in the American League, where pitchers never bat, didn’t deprive Jim Gott of his ability to hit a baseball.
In this game at San Francisco, Gott, who came to the Giants from Toronto in the Gary Lavelle trade, hit two home runs. Walt Terrell, now with Detroit, is the last National League pitcher to hit two in one game. He did it in 1983 when he was with the Mets.
Gott was not the winning pitcher, since Ozzie Smith homered in the ninth to tie the game for the Cardinals.
David Green, a former Cardinal who was 4 for 50 going into the game, singled in the winning run in the 10th inning. It was his third hit of the game.