St. Louis Cardinal Manager Whitey Herzog is a big fan of the Dodgers’ Fernando Valenzuela, but he also knows which team he manages.
On Sunday, after John Tudor had pitched the Cardinals past the Houston Astros, 5-0, on a seven-hitter, Herzog was asked who he feels is the best left-hander in the National League.
Herzog didn’t hesitate.
“Tudor,” he said. “There’s no doubt, none whatsoever.”
Needing only 101 pitches against the Astros, Tudor pitched his league-leading seventh shutout of the season. He struck out seven and did not walk a batter. The Astros had just one runner reach second base--Jose Cruz in the second inning.
However, Tudor was reluctant to get into a debate.
“I don’t worry about ‘Who is the best’ stuff,” Tudor told United Press International. “I know Fernando Valenzuela is a pretty darn good left-hander. I don’t see how you can say anyone is the best. Oh, you can make an exception for Dwight Gooden. I don’t question he’s the best pitcher in baseball right now.”
Tudor has the numbers to back up Herzog’s claim.
Tudor (16-8) lowered his earned-run average to 2.03, second-best in the league. The victory broke a string of three consecutive no-decision starts. His last victory was on Aug. 12. He has won 15 of his last 16 decisions.
“I’ve never been in a streak like this before,” Tudor said. “It’s all new to me. I don’t regard myself as a 20-game winner. I’ve always thought of myself as a 15-16 consistent game winner. I’m just looking at 17 now.”
The win snapped a three-game losing streak for the Eastern Division-leading Cardinals. Ten of Tudor’s victories have come after St. Louis losses.
Willie McGee, who increased his league-leading average to .368 with three hits, hit his seventh homer off loser Joe Niekro (9-11) in the fifth inning to give the Cardinals a 3-0 lead.
New York 4, San Francisco 3--Pinch-hitter Keith Hernandez hit a two-run homer with one out in the ninth inning to lift the Mets past the Giants at San Francisco.
The victory kept the Mets two games behind St. Louis in the East.
Hernandez’s ninth homer of the year--and first since July 24--came off reliever Mark Davis (4-8) and capped a three-run rally.
Doug Sisk (3-5) worked two scoreless innings in relief of starter Ed Lynch, and Jesse Orosco pitched the ninth inning for his 16th save.
Bob Brenly drove in the Giants’ runs with a single in the second and a two-out, two-run double off Lynch in the sixth.
Gary Carter hit his 20th homer of the year in the fourth for the Mets.
San Diego 5, Montreal 1--Rookie Lance McCullers retired all 10 batters he faced to pick up his fifth save in eight games and Garry Templeton delivered a two-run single to spark the Padres past the Expos at San Diego.
The Padres moved to within six games of the Dodgers in the West.
McCullers, called up from the Pacific Coast League Aug. 9, relieved Andy Hawkins (17-4) with one out in the sixth inning, two runners aboard and the Padres holding a 4-1 lead. He got Andre Dawson to hit into an inning-ending double pay.
The Padres had a 1-0 lead in the second when Templeton hit a two-out, two-run single against Floyd Youmans (1-2).
Cincinnati 3, Pittsburgh 2--Bo Diaz homered and Pete Rose and Dave Parker singled home runs in a three-run eighth inning that carried the Reds past the Pirates at Cincinnati.
Rose had two singles in four at-bats, leaving him six hits shy of breaking Ty Cobb’s all-time record of 4,191.
Mario Soto (11-15) allowed six hits in eight innings, striking out eight, to break a four-game losing streak. Rod Scurry (0-1) took the loss.
Chicago 15, Atlanta 2--Davey Lopes homered and added a pair of singles, and Keith Moreland had three hits and four runs batted in as the Cubs overpowered the Braves at Chicago.
Derek Botelho (1-2) pitched a six-hit complete game for his first National League victory, while Len Barker (2-7) got the loss.
Chris Chambliss hit a two-run homer in the fourth for the Braves.