The Dodgers and Chicago Cubs threw Cy Young award winners at each other Tuesday night at Dodger Stadium, and the Cubs threw Fernando Valenzuela right back, winning, 8-3, before a sellout crowd of 48,187.
Scoring five runs in the first two innings, the Cubs chased Valenzuela (Cy Young, 1981) by the fifth inning, his earliest knockout of the season.
Rick Sutcliffe (Cy Young, 1984), meanwhile, had his early inning problems, too, but stranded two Dodger runners in all three middle innings for his first win here since 1981, when he was still a Dodger.
The Dodgers were the only team to beat Sutcliffe in the regular season in 1984, when he went 16-1 and pitched the Cubs to the National League Eastern Division title.
Sutcliffe said he was too pumped up on his return here last season, when he lost, 7-1. Any problems he had with his composure evaporated after the first inning, and he went on to record a complete-game win that ran his record to 5-3.
Valenzuela, meanwhile, is now 3-4, and the Dodgers dropped 2 1/2 games behind San Diego in the NL West.
The Cubs, the highest-scoring team in the league last season, actually came into the game with a lower team batting average (.223) than the Dodgers (.233).
Through five games of this trip, the Cubs were batting .165 and had scored just 11 runs, six in a win against the Padres.
“We’re going to score runs,” said ex-Dodger Ron Cey, who started the night at .183 and had just three hits in his last 18 at-bats. “And our pitching is greatly improved.
“Once we start rolling, the better side of things will still be in front of us.”
They let the good times roll in the second, scoring four runs with the help of two bases-loaded walks by Valenzuela, an error, and two hits that traveled a combined distance of 90 feet.
With one out and Jody Davis aboard on a single, Leon Durham topped a ball slowly down the first-base line that Valenzuela overran, Durham getting credit for an infield hit. Valenzuela might have escaped unharmed if Pedro Guerrero had turned a double play on Larry Bowa’s grounder to third, but Guerrero’s off-balance throw gave second baseman Steve Sax no chance to make the relay.
Sutcliffe, who came into the game batting .222, an average equal to or better than four of the Cub regulars, lined Valenzuela’s first pitch through the box for a base hit, scoring Davis. Bob Dernier then dropped a perfect bunt down the third-base line, loading the bases.
Valenzuela went to a full count on Ryne Sandberg, then walked him, bringing in one run, and Mariano Duncan booted Gary Matthews’ broken-bat roller to allow another. Valenzuela, who had wild-pitched a run home in the first, then issued another bases-loaded walk to Keith Moreland, and it was 5-2.
Valenzuela departed after the fourth, when the Cubs scored their sixth run on a walk to Sutcliffe and Sandberg’s end-of-the-bat double to right.
Sutcliffe, whose only regular-season loss in 1984 was a 7-1 defeat here, gave up two runs in the first on doubles by Ken Landreaux and Mike Marshall and Guerrero’s sacrifice fly. In the fourth, two walks and Terry Whitfield’s pinch single made it 6-3, with Moreland’s diving catch of Sax’s liner to right ending the Dodger threat.
Whitfield now has seven hits in 11 at-bats as a pinch-hitter, with five RBIs.
Tuesday was the seventh anniversary of Dave Kingman’s three-home-run game at Dodger Stadium, which inspired Manager Tom Lasorda’s infamous “What did you think of Kingman’s performance?” diatribe. . . . Pinch-hitter Jay Johnstone, as expected, remained on the disabled list, with a bad hip. “He still can’t hit,” trainer Bill Buhler said. “What the heck good is he?” The Dodgers waited until gametime before announcing that shortstop Dave Anderson will remain on the disabled list, at least temporarily. Anderson went on the DL with a bad back but “irritated his left side” Buhler said, while making a play in the hole during practice last week. He was examined again Tuesday by Dr. Ben Ling. . . . Pitcher Bob Welch, scheduled to come off the 21-day disabled list next Monday, threw for about 25 minutes Tuesday and Buhler said he was pleased with his effort. . . . Lasorda, watching Ron Cey playing pepper with his son, Danny, said: “Penguin, I’ll sign him right now.” Answered Cey: “For five years, with a no-trade.” . . . Larry Bowa started at short for the Cubs instead of rookie Shawon Dunston, who was benched for the second straight game. “Just normal rookie problems,” Cey said of Dunston. “He has no experience, so he has nothing to draw on. He has to go out and do everything himself.”