In the span of 24 hours, the Dodgers went from Jay Johnstone ridiculous to Orel Hershiser sublime Tuesday night before 27,292 at Dodger Stadium.
The result was the same in both instances: another Dodger win, this one a four-hit, 4-0 shutout by Hershiser over the Montreal Expos that ran his record in Dodger Stadium to 9-0 and lowered his earned-run average at home to 1.01.
Johnstone, who delivered a game-winning pinch single the night before, was not called upon to make an appearance Tuesday, other than to take a pie in the face from teammate Tom Niedenfuer during a pregame TV interview.
The need for Johnstone was precluded by another three-hit game by Pedro Guerrero, his second in two nights, which included his 32nd home run of the season.
Guerrero’s home run off Expo reliever and avowed Dodger hater Bill Laskey split the flagpoles in center field leading off the sixth inning for the Dodgers’ final run. It matched his career high and drew him within one of Steve Garvey’s L.A. Dodger record of 33, set in 1977.
Guerrero has 33 games left to break Garvey’s record. That’s how long the Dodgers have left to protect their lead in the National League West that grew another game when Cincinnati and San Diego lost. The Reds trail by 7 1/2 games, the Padres by 8.
And the Dodgers, after dropping four straight games at home to the Philadelphia Phillies last weekend, appear to have righted themselves, even with their starting first baseman (Greg Brock) benched and their leadoff man (Mariano Duncan) hitless in his last 24 at-bats.
“Everybody around the team started to panic,” said Hershiser, who needed just 82 pitches to dispose of the Expos, who had just four singles and failed to get a man to second base.
“But we knew we’d come around. We’ve been playing outstanding, consistent baseball for the last two months, and a team doesn’t switch that fast.”
Len Matuszek, who started at first in Brock’s place, singled home one of two Dodger runs in the fourth, an inning that was highlighted by stolen bases by Guerrero and Bill Madlock, the same pair that had executed a double steal the night before.
The Dodger daring on the basepaths didn’t end there. In the eighth, catcher Mike Scioscia stole second, his first stolen base of the year, a fact that was acknowledged on the DiamondVision scoreboard.
Scioscia never looked behind him at the screen. “You were magnificent,” teammate Enos Cabell said afterward. “Did you see your slide?”
Hershiser’s suggestion to Manager Tom Lasorda after Scioscia’s steal: “Send in a pinch-runner.”
The fans around the dugout, Hershiser said, were chanting “ ‘Go, Go, Go,’ like he was a speed demon, or something.”
Scioscia had one more stolen base Tuesday than league leader Vince Coleman but still needs 87 more to catch the Cardinal rookie.
Speed aside, Hershiser said Scioscia’s other assets have been all but overlooked.
“He may be having the silentest MVP year in the league,” Hershiser said.
Guerrero, who is having one of the loudest, singled in the Dodgers’ first run in the first off Expo starter Bryn Smith (15-5), singled and scored in the fourth, and after his home run in the sixth, was walked intentionally to complete a perfect night. Before the game, Lasorda asked Guerrero into his office for a meeting, but neither party would divulge what was discussed.
Asked when Garvey’s record will fall, Guerrero said: “When? I hope I know when. I wish I could tell. But I think I can hit one home run in 33 games.”
If Hershiser had fewer than 13 no-decisions this season, he could be pointing toward a 20-win season after raising his record to 14-3. His shutout was his fifth, matching Fernando Valenzuela for the team high, and it was the Dodgers’ 20th of the season, most by an L.A. staff since the 1972 team recorded 23.
“We had the at-'em ball going,” said Expo Manager Bob Rodgers, whose team fell nine games behind St. Louis in the NL East. “If a couple of those had fallen in, we might still be playing. At least, we’d have had a decent shot, but they didn’t.”
It was not an easy night for the Expos. Among other embarrassments, second-base umpire Dutch Rennert ruled that center fielder Herm Winningham did not hold onto Ken Landreaux’s fly ball long enough for an out, and Winningham was charged with a two-base error.
Hershiser said his job was made all the more easier by Duncan, the shortstop who hasn’t had a hit since the team returned home from New York last week.
“He made four great plays behind the mound,” Hershiser said. “He may be in a slump, but he keeps us in the game with his glove.”
Hershiser had no explanation for being unbeatable at Dodger Stadium. “I eat the same meals and go to bed the same time that I do on the road,” he said.
But for opposing hitters, it’s lights out much faster in Los Angeles than anywhere else.
It’s getting close to that time as well for the Reds and Padres.
“They’ve got to make up two games a week on us,” Hershiser said. “If we can play .500 ball at least, we’ll be tough to catch.”
Dodger officials were elated by Alejandro Pena’s performance during a simulated game Tuesday. Pena worked the equivalent of four innings, struck out three, walked two and allowed no hits. If Pena’s shoulder is not hurting today, he’s scheduled to throw again Saturday. After that, an appearance in a game is a possibility, although the Dodgers have not yet decided whether he’ll pitch here or in the instructional league . . . For the second straight game, first baseman Greg Brock remained on the bench. Tuesday, Len Matuszek started in Brock’s place. In his last 19 plate appearances, Brock has hit the ball out of the infield just once . . . Defensive play of the game Tuesday was recorded by Expo third baseman Tim Wallach, who made a diving, back-handed stop of Steve Sax’s smash in the fourth, then threw out Sax while on his knees . . . In three months, Mike Scioscia has raised his average from .232 to .293, second only to Pedro Guerrero on the Dodgers. In his last 18 games before Tuesday, Scioscia was batting .412 (21 for 51) . . . Enos Cabell, who injured his right elbow diving for a ball last Thursday, remains on a day-to-day basis. Cabell is expected to play first base against left-handers . . . Mariano Duncan, hitless in five trips Monday, was 1 for his last 25 coming into the game . . . One for the books: Jim Carey, a La Habra resident sitting in the first row of the loge section behind home plate, caught three foul balls Monday, two on consecutive batters. A fan sitting three seats away from Carey, who brought his glove to the game, grabbed another. “I said to Fergy (Joe Ferguson, the Dodger Eye in the Sky), ‘Sign him up,”’ said Dodger coach Monty Basgall . . . Expo rookie John Dopson, a right-hander, will make his major league debut tonight against the Dodgers and Bob Welch (9-3). The Dodgers have confirmed Friday night’s pitching matchup: Fernando Valenzuela vs. Dwight Gooden of the New York Mets. The game is a sellout and will be televised locally on cable by Dodgervision . . . Dodger Manager Tom Lasorda tried to tell people that President Reagan called to congratulate Jay Johnstone on his game-winning pinch hit on Monday. With Johnstone, anything’s possible, but he said there was no call from the White House. “But he (Reagan) did get one of my books,” said the author of “Temporary Insanity.” . . . Kurt Bevacqua of the Padres, a long-time Lasorda baiter, poked fun again at Lasorda in a column he wrote for the Oceanside (Calif.) Blade-Tribune on Tuesday. Bevacqua, referring to Bill Madlock shaving his beard after being traded to the Dodgers, wrote: “Lasorda said it’s against team policy to have a beard on the Dodgers. He said he personally dislikes beards and only ugly people have them so they can hide their faces. Lasorda said he thought all these years that Madlock was ugly because he had a beard. And now that he’s shaved, he discovered the third baseman is quite handsome. Well, all I can say is that if Lasorda really believes in his theory about the relationship between beards and ugliness, he should grow hair on his whole body.” . . .