Dodgers Rally, Give Howe First Win in Nearly Two Years
Mike Marshall, asked to recall the last time the Dodgers came from two runs down in the ninth inning to win a game, made no attempt to respond.
“Oh, I thought it was a trivia question,” he said. “I don’t know the answer.”
It hasn’t been as long as the last time Steve Howe won a game, but it’s close. And, naturally, it wasn’t easy. The Dodgers went through nearly four hours and 19 players, left 15 men on base and blew one hamstring before beating the New York Mets, 5-4, in 12 innings Monday night in Dodger Stadium.
Much of the crowd of 36,935 was already on the freeway or in the parking lots when Terry Whitfield, the last available nonpitcher on the Dodger bench, bounced a ball into the hole that Mets shortstop Rafael Santana fielded and threw past second baseman Ray Knight, allowing Bill Russell to score the winning run.
Russell had reached base safely when another throw, by third baseman Howard Johnson, struck him flush in the back, leaving a baseball-sized red spot that was missing only Chub Feeney’s signature.
“It’s about time,” Howe said, “that somebody else screwed up.”
But while the game may have ended on a Met blunder, it took some rare late thunder from the Dodgers to send the game into extra innings and give Howe a chance to win his first game since July 29, 1983.
Down 4-2 after Danny Heep’s two-run homer off struggling reliever Kenny Howell in the top of the ninth, the Dodgers came back against Mets relief ace Jesse Orosco on ground-rule doubles by Mariano Duncan and R.J. Reynolds and a game-tying single by Pedro Guerrero, rejuvenated by his move to the outfield.
“I just go out there (center field) and work on my batting stance,” said a laughing Guerrero, who had three of the Dodgers’ season-high 14 hits (he is batting .400 (6 for 15) since the position switch). “I don’t get to do that at third base.
“I didn’t know they were going to make the move, but I’m just glad that they did.”
It was just one of several moves made by Dodger Manager Tom Lasorda, either out of choice or by necessity, that worked to the Dodgers’ advantage.
Duncan, for example, apparently entered the game at second base as a defensive replacement for Steve Sax and started the game-winning rally. Russell, too, was on the bench, and came in only after Bob Bailor pulled a hamstring beating out a Santana bobble in the eighth.
Bailor’s injury forced Lasorda to move shortstop Dave Anderson, who was making his first start since coming back from Albuquerque and turned a season-high three double plays, over to third. Russell stayed in the game at short and touched off the winning rally.
In came Howe, who left two Met runners on in both the 11th and 12th. In the 11th, he struck out George Foster on a pitch out of the strike zone with runners on first and third and got Heep on a fly ball. In the 12th, he induced pinch-hitter Knight to tap back to the mound.
He was less successful after the game fending off Jay Johnstone, who lathered Howe’s hair with shaving cream.
“I’ve never blown guys away, never,” Howe said. “I pitch to spots, and try to beat people at their weaknesses.”
Asked if he were pitching now as well as ever, he said: “I think I am. Really.
“A lot of situations are new to me, like when I did the Curly Shuffle on that double play yesterday.
“But I’m throwing the ball well, I’m happy, I didn’t start the season on the disabled list and we’re winning. What more could you want?”
What more? A break, which the Dodgers got in duplicate against Doug Sisk, the fifth Met pitcher who had worked four innings the day before in San Diego.
First, Russell reached on a high chopper when third baseman Johnson hurried his throw. After Steve Yeager popped out on a bunt attempt, Sisk walked Dave Anderson on four pitches. That brought up pinch-hitter Whitfield, who was hitless in his previous 12 at-bats.
“Santana made a good play just to get that ball,” said Reynolds, whose three hits Monday raised his average to .291. “Suppose he doesn’t throw that ball away and turns the double play.
“But sooner or later, somebody was going to get a break. I’m just glad it was us.”
The Dodgers, who were 6 1/2 games back when they started this homestand, now trail first-place San Diego by 3 1/2 games.
“Each game we play like that, where we make no mistakes, gives us more confidence,” Russell said. “It’s just a matter of us making the plays, nothing else. If we do that, everything else will fall into place.”
Dodger Notes Ken Howell, who gave up Danny Heep’s two-run homer in the ninth, has now been scored upon in five straight outings. “I don’t understand it,” Howell said. “I get two outs, work to stay ahead of them, make the pitch I want to make and he hits it out. I’m just not consistent. It’s off and on. I don’t know if it’s confidence, but I’ve got to take care of it now.” . . . While Dave Anderson was in on all three Dodger double plays Monday, he credited Bob Bailor for stabilizing a defense that now has played four straight games without committing an error. “We’re on a roll defensively,” Anderson said. “I think we’re also a lot more comfortable, especially Mariano (Duncan) and (Steve) Sax. But I think the key has been Buzzie (Bailor). He’s really done the job.” Bailor, who stumbled out of the batter’s box and then pulled his right hamstring, said he’d have to wait a day to determine how serious the injury is. “I’d like to say it doesn’t feel too bad, because it doesn’t,” he said. “But I’ll have to wait.” Bailor has six hits in 13 trips since Manager Tom Lasorda put him in the starting lineup Friday. “I’m seeing the ball like this,” said Bailor, cupping his hands the size of a basketball. . . .
R.J. Reynolds, batting .444 (12 for 27) in a seven-game hitting streak, also has been bothered by his hamstrings. Steve Howe’s nickname for Reynolds? “Tissue,” Howe said, “because he tears so easily.” Reynolds said that during games he also becomes dehydrated, which contributes to the tightening of his muscles. “I’ve got to drink a lot of water,” he said. “But if I drink a quart of water for 12 innings, I’ll be waterlogged.” . . . Orel Hershiser gave up six hits and the Mets’ first two runs in eight innings. The Dodgers scored single runs in the first and second off Mets starter Ed Lynch, who lasted five innings. Mets reliever Roger McDowell, who worked the sixth and seventh, struck out five Dodgers. . . . Howe’s last win was July 23, 1983, in a 10-5 win over the Cardinals in St. Louis. Howe pitched one-third of an inning in that one. . . . Infielder Mike Ramsey, released by the Dodgers on Sunday, said he plans to seek employment elsewhere. “The first thing I’m going to do is call the Mets,” said Ramsey, aware that the Mets are looking for an infield reserve. “Beyond that, I’m obviously going to call a few teams.” At the time Ramsey signed with the Dodgers, he expressed a willingness to play in the minors, but Dodger Vice President Al Campanis chose to let him go rather than send him down. “Campanis said he’d rather play the young kids down there,” said Ramsey, 31. “I need to play a little bit, even Triple A would be acceptable, just to get game-sharp again.” . . . Mike Marshall, who flied out to shallow right as a pinch-hitter with the bases loaded in the eighth, said he plans to throw with his injured right shoulder today and, if all goes well, will return to the starting lineup on Wednesday. . . . Pitcher Bobby Castillo was used as a pinch-runner for Bailor in the eighth. “Got to get those speed demons in there,” he said. . . . Lasorda said Bob Welch will make his first start Wednesday, with Rick Honeycutt moved back to Friday, when he’ll open a three-game series in Atlanta. . . . Fernando Valenzuela faces Dwight Gooden tonight. The Mets are limiting interviews with Gooden to postgame sessions on days he pitches.