For sheer shock value, this made the “Texas Chainsaw Massacre” look like a Disney film.
The Dodgers, three outs away from losing on a ninth-inning run by the Giants, won, 4-2, on two home runs in the bottom of the ninth.
The first was hit by Mike Marshall on the first pitch thrown by Giants reliever Greg Minton in the bottom of the ninth.
That tied the score, 2-2. The game-winning homer was hit by second baseman Steve Sax, his first of the season and second in two years.
When it left Sax’s bat, on a 2-and-0 pitch from reliever Mark Davis, broadcaster Vin Scully described it as nothing but a high fly ball, which it was. But it continued to carry, as outfielder Jeff Leonard watched in disbelief, started after the ball in vain hope, then watched helplessly again as the ball cleared the 370-foot sign and a happy Sax crossed the plate with a leap into the arms of Manager Tom Lasorda.
“I got lucky--what can I say?” said Sax, who managed to claim a casualty even as he circled the bases.
Sax’s victim: Dodger third base coach Joe Amalfitano, who took an icepack home with him for his taped-up right thumb, which he injured shaking hands with Sax on his way to the plate.
“I should have known better,” Amalfitano said. “I saw his eyes when he hit third.”
In such stunning fashion, the Dodgers won their 20th game of the month and 10th since the All-Star break in front of a crowd of 46,668, which pushed the Dodgers’ attendance over the two million mark for the 13th consecutive season.
Fernando Valenzuela, who was lifted for a pinch-hitter with the score tied 1-1, was denied his fifth straight win, but the Dodgers maintained their five-game lead over the San Diego Padres in the NL West.
Sax had never hit a game-winning home run in the majors before connecting off Davis, who said he threw a high fastball--"I was just going after him.”
The last time he won a game with a homer, he said, was in Double-A ball in 1981.
“And I was the winning pitcher then, too,” said Tuesday’s winner, Tom Niedenfuer, who took Sax’s hand to congratulate him but was laughing too hard to say much.
“We’re on a roll, that’s all you can say,” said Niedenfuer, who collected his fifth win despite giving up the go-ahead run in the top of the ninth.
According to catcher Steve Yeager, Lasorda called Sax’s shot in the dugout.
“Lasorda said, ‘Hit one out of here, you haven’t hit one all year,”’ said Yeager, beaming. “No sooner had he gotten the words out of his mouth than Saxie hit one into the seats. Hey, I was standing right next to him.”
Lasorda, humbly: “That is the truth, if I ever spoke it.”
Candy Maldonado’s fourth home run off Giant starter Atlee Hammaker had tied the score, 1-1, with two out in the seventh.
“Check the bat,” someone said to Maldonado, whose bat was impounded the last time he hit a home run, at Chicago on July 14.
“Check these,” Maldonado said, holding out his well-defined forearms.
The Giants took a 2-1 lead in the top of the ninth when Dan Gladden doubled off Niedenfuer and scored on Manny Trillo’s single, Gladden just beating Pedro Guerrero’s throw to the plate.
Valenzuela allowed just six hits. Two were by opposing pitcher Hammaker, his first of ’85 after going 0 for 28.
The Giants are anything but road warriors--since last Sept. 15, they have won just 14 of their last 61 games away from home.
In two previous starts against the Giants, Valenzuela had not allowed an earned run in 17 innings, but only had a 1-1 record to show for it. He beat the Giants, 1-0, on April 13, but lost, 2-1, 10 days later on an error by shortstop Dave Anderson.
The Giants finally scored an untainted run against him in the second inning on a walk to Jeff Leonard, Chris Brown’s single and an infield grounder by David Green.
Hammaker, coming off rotator cuff surgery that caused him to miss half of the 1984 season, appeared in six games, then had bone spurs removed from his left arm and was sidelined the rest of the season, was making only his second start ever against the Dodgers.
He allowed singles to Enos Cabell and Guerrero with one out in the first, but Marshall grounded into a double play.
Dave Anderson, who did not take part in pregame warmups, was examined again by Dr. Robert Watkins and after the game it was announced that Anderson will go on the 15-day disabled list today. . . . R.J. Reynolds is eligible to be activated on Friday. . . . Fernando Valenzuela, who had a no decision, would have become the first Dodger pitcher to win six games in a month since Burt Hooton did so in 1975. . . . The Dodger record for most wins in a month by a pitcher is seven, shared by reliever Mike Marshall and Don Sutton. Both accomplished it in 1974. . . . With the Giants starting a left-hander for the second straight night, Ken Landreaux remained on the bench, even though he has been one of the Dodgers’ hottest hitters. In his last five games, Landreaux has batted .500 (11 for 22) and has raised his average 30 points in a month, from .235 on June 29 to .265. “I don’t think people have been paying much attention to what Landreaux has done the last five weeks,” said batting instructor Ben Hines. “He’s been hitting rockets.”
The Sporting News, in conjunction with Coca-Cola, named a Latin-American All-Star team. Pedro Guerrero (third base) and Valenzuela (left-handed pitcher) were named to the team, while Mariano Duncan was named rookie of the year. Jose Cruz of the Astros was named player of the year. Asked what he thought of the concept, Guerrero--who has complained of being snubbed by the Sporting News in the past--said: “I don’t know, I don’t remember ever being on their cover, but whatever they do is fine.” . . . Duncan’s bases-loaded triple off Scott Garrelts Monday night was only the second extra-base hit allowed by Garrelts in his last 28 appearances. The other was a home run by Enos Cabell, then with the Astros, the only home run allowed by Garrelts this season. . . . During batting practice, Giant pitcher Dave LaPoint took the field wearing Bill Laskey’s warmup shirt, LaPoint was unaware that on the back of the shirt, someone had taped on Laskey’s hotel room number. . . . Correction: The Dodgers were the only team in the NL West to have better than a .500 record for the month of July until the Reds won Tuesday night.