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Welch, Honeycutt Share Honors in 2-1 Dodger Win

Times Staff Writer

Pitchers Bob Welch and Rick Honeycutt, apparently having bought time-shares on the same Dodger Stadium pitcher’s mound, managed to accommodate each other’s work schedule nicely on Wednesday night. Welch, coming off some rehabilitation time in the Class A minor leagues, took Honeycutt’s spot in the rotation to pitch five innings of two-hit baseball.

Honeycutt then worked three more innings of relief in a game he would have started, and allowed just one hit in helping the Dodgers to a 2-1 victory over the New York Mets.

Not many people saw it, relatively speaking. Just 32,631 fans, many of them tuned into a basketball game, were in attendance, a figure nearly 8,000 below average. But those who were there saw the Dodgers finish up a homestand 5-3, and finally return to the .500 level.

Welch, who had thrown five innings all season, returned to the active list with five more. And they were a nice five, too. Working his first start since April 22, when he sprained a ligament in his right elbow, he held the Mets to just two hits, although one of those was George Foster’s eighth home run of the season.

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Since April 22, Welch has done all his pitching either on the sidelines or at Vero Beach, where he spent 20 days on an injury rehabilitation assignment. Welch evidently found Class A hitting to be on a par with the Mets’ hitting, allowing four runs in 17 innings there.

The Mets were on the helpless side in the face of this latest rehabilitation project. Except for Foster’s second-inning homer, which came on an 0-2 pitch, Welch was in command. He struck out five and only allowed one other hit, a lunging single over third by Met pitcher Sid Fernandez.

As pitching coach Ron Perranoski had promised, five was all Welch would go, no matter how well he was going. He yielded to Honeycutt, whose spot in the rotation Welch had taken. Honeycutt’s immediate problem appeared to be more the mound than anything in the batter’s box. Coming in to start the sixth, he seemed baffled by something, as if Dodger Stadium was all new to him. The groundskeeper was hailed and he finally raked the mound to Honeycutt’s satisfaction.

If the Dodgers were finding some unexpected pitching, they likewise found unexpected hitting from Steve Yeager, who came into the game with a .143 average and who left with an RBI double--his second of the year--that scored Mike Marshall for the Dodgers’ first run in the second inning. The inning might have been bigger, as former Dodger Fernandez walked both Dave Anderson and Steve Sax to load the bases. But Mariano Duncan killed the inning with a pop-up behind second base.

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Duncan was allowed a second chance, and did better, in the fifth inning when he followed up Sax’s single and subsequent stolen base with a single to left for an RBI.

All this early scoring was accompanied by cheering in all the wrong places, which may have puzzled the players and those few fans who didn’t bring their own portable television. In fact, much of the crowd was following the Lakers-Celtics basketball game and were offering cheers to the various developments on the floor of the Forum, not to those inside Dodger Stadium.

The attraction of the NBA finals notwithstanding, the Dodgers still managed to go over the million mark in attendance, after just 25 home dates. This is no record, though; the Dodgers reached the mark in 22 dates back in 1981.

Dodger Notes Met pitcher Dwight Gooden, who struck out 12 in beating the Dodgers on Tuesday night, actually got stronger as the game wore on. Dodger radar clocked Gooden’s fastball at 92 m.p.h. in the first inning, then at 94 m.p.h. in the eighth. Good thing it didn’t go extra innings. . . . A curious statistic provided by the Dodgers: One the road, the team has hit 24 home runs to its opponents’ 12. At home, however, it trails, 12-11, in the same category. . . . The Dodgers have a travel day today. They will open a nine-game road trip in Atlanta on Friday.

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