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Dodgers Go for the Bunt

<i> Times Staff Writer </i>

Bob Bailor, the latest Dodger to be shifted to third base, never has let moving around affect his hitting like it has the newest Dodger center fielder, Pedro Guerrero.

“Personally, I’ve always believed that you hit with the bat and field with the glove,” said Bailor, recently released from an extended exile to the bench. “It didn’t bother me. Then again, I wasn’t in a position to argue.”

Sunday afternoon, however, Bailor was in position to contribute to the Dodgers’ biggest inning of the season, a five-run fifth, and again in a three-run seventh. The Dodgers, who hadn’t scored more than six runs all season, needed all of those runs to hold off Montreal, 8-7, before 37,660 in Dodger Stadium.

The Expos scored three times in the ninth and had runners on second and third before Tom Niedenfuer retired Tim Wallach on a fly ball to end the game.

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“It could have been a disaster but it wasn’t,” said Niedenfuer, who gave up five hits in the ninth before getting Wallach, something he’s been doing with regularity since they played against each other in college. “We’ll take the win.”

They’ll also take their rallies any way they come, which on Sunday did not conform to the Dodgers’ traditional mold of the power-hitting third baseman clearing the bases with bench-rattling drives. Bailor, hardly the slugger--he has nine big league home runs lifetime--dropped bunts in both the fifth, when he came to the plate with the bases loaded, and again in the seventh, when there were two runners on.

The first bunt successfully squeezed in Guerrero to give the Dodgers a 4-3 lead after they had trailed, 3-0. It also accounted for Bailor’s first RBI of the season.

The second bunt started out as your basic sacrifice but became much more when Expos reliever Mickey Mahler heaved it somewhere in the direction of the San Gabriel Mountains. Greg Brock, who had three hits Sunday, scored on the play, and Steve Sax followed with a two-run single.

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“The way we’ve been struggling to get runs, it (bunting) was a good idea,” said Bailor, who started the season with one hit in his first 20 at-bats but has seven in his last 18 trips to raise his average to .211.

“I was aware of the squeeze the whole time I was up there. That’s why I took the first pitch, figuring he (Manager Tom Lasorda) might come back with the squeeze, which he did.

“That’s the funny thing about bunts. You probably work on that (fielding bunts) in spring training more than anything else, and yet you probably see more misplays on bunts than anything else.”

Bailor was making his third straight start for the Dodgers, the last two at third since Guerrero was shifted to the outfield.

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“I thought Pete did a good job (at third),” Bailor said. “Maybe it affected him, I don’t know.

“But if he does start cranking, I don’t think they’ll move him back. Why mess with him then?”

Guerrero, who had struck out with the bases loaded in the first inning of Saturday’s 4-2 loss, delivered one of three straight RBI hits in the fifth, which began when Sax walked and Mariano Duncan sent him to third on a hit-and-run.

R.J. Reynolds, who now leads the Dodger regulars with a .277 average, bounced a single up the middle to score Sax with the first Dodger run off Bryn Smith, and when center fielder Herm Winningham booted the ball, the runners moved up.

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Guerrero lined Smith’s next pitch to left to make it, 3-2, then set off for second on another hit-and-run. When shortstop Hubie Brooks broke to cover, Brock hit a spinner through the vacant hole, tying the score.

Gary Lucas relieved Smith and walked Ken Landreaux, loading the bases for Bailor’s squeeze. Wallach robbed Steve Yeager of a hit with a diving stop, but that brought home Brock with the fifth run.

Guerrero, asked how he liked his new surroundings, said: “So far, fine.

“I was relaxed more. On Saturday, that guy (David Palmer) made three good pitches--he threw me three curveballs in the same spot. To me, he was lucky. He walked the guy before, then threw three curves in the same spot.”

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Bobby Castillo, who beaned Andre Dawson in the first, got the win, even though he gave up a home run to Brooks and a two-run triple to U.L. Washington, Dawson’s replacement in the Expos’ order.

Montreal closed to 5-4 in the seventh when Steve Howe threw too late to second on Brooks’ comebacker to the mound with runners on first and third.

“Brock said, ‘I think you screwed that up,’ ” Howe said. “I said, ‘Shut up, that’s my run.’ ”

Niedenfuer entered in the eighth and struck out three of the first four batters he faced. But four straight singles in the ninth, including Washington’s blooper off the glove of Duncan in short left, plus Terry Francona’s slicing double that kicked up chalk on the left-field line, kept the outcome in doubt.

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“We can’t win without being scared,” Guerrero said. “But I expect things to change soon. We’ve got a long way to go.

“I can’t say I’m not worried about things, but a lot of things can happen. I’ve got too much confidence in our team.”

Dodger Notes Montreal center fielder Andre Dawson, beaned by Bobby Castillo in the first inning, was taken to Centinela Hospital Medical Center for X-rays, which proved negative. Dawson, who deflected the ball slightly with his arm, returned to the Montreal clubhouse sporting a bruise under his left eye. “He was lucky,” trainer Ron McClain said. “It could have been a lot worse.” . . . Steve Yeager was furious with a decision by official scorer Terry Johnson, who gave Yeager a fielder’s choice instead of a hit on third baseman Tim Wallach’s diving stop with the bases loaded in the fifth. Wallach could have tagged runner Candy Maldonado right in front of him, but apparently opted to go for the double play instead. Everyone was safe when Bob Bailor beat Wallach’s throw to second. “The third baseman makes a great play and the official scorer bleeps me,” said Yeager, obviously frustrated by his .125 batting average (5 for 40). The night before, Yeager had lined a shot at pitcher Gary Lucas, who knocked the ball down and threw him out. Yeager, who has been playing only against left-handers, made his first start against a right-hander (Bryn Smith) as Manager Tom Lasorda decided to give a rest to Mike Scioscia, who has just six hits in his last 36 at-bats and batted only .207 in May. “You can’t expect miracles when a guy is only playing once a week or once every 10 days,” Yeager said. “But as a part-time player, I’m busting my butt, doing the best I can. As long as I’m doing that, I can live with myself.” Last June, the Dodgers released Rick Monday, Yeager’s best friend on the team, when Monday was batting .191 at the time. “Sure I think about it,” Yeager said. “I thought it was horsespit then and I think it’s horsespit now. But who knows? It could happen to me tomorrow. But if it does, somebody will need a backup catcher.” . . . Ken Landreaux started in right field in place of Mike Marshall, whose right shoulder is bothering him. Landreaux singled to break an 0 for 13 string; Marshall struck out as a pinch-hitter. “It’s no problem hitting,” Marshall said of the shoulder, “but I can’t throw. I can’t get my arm up over my head. It’s been bothering me about a week, but it’s been a gradual thing. I’m going to give it a couple of days to see how it feels.” . . . Dave Anderson returned from Albuquerque Sunday and said his back was fine. “After being in the minor leagues for two weeks, I just want to play, period,” said Anderson, who divided his time between second and short. “I’ll just go hard and see what happens.” . . . The Dodgers made it three games in a row without making an error, a first this season. . . . The Dodgers will have three of the first 36 picks in today’s amateur free agent draft. The Dodgers have their own (No. 10) pick in the first and second rounds, as well as Texas’ pick (No. 2) as compensation for the Rangers’ signing of pitcher Burt Hooton last winter. . . . Greg Brock, who had three singles, had his first three-hit game of the season.


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