The Montreal Expos, who welcome a visit to Los Angeles about as much as they welcome acid rain north of the border, did their part to pad the Dodger lead in the National League West while checking themselves out of the race in the NL East.
The Expos, who have a history of winning only one of every three games they play here (they are 33-66 to date), couldn’t even match that pace in the latest series, dropping their third straight game to the Dodgers, 4-2, Wednesday night before a crowd of 29,338 at Dodger Stadium.
Montreal rookie John Dopson made his first big-league start a memorable one--for Dodger first baseman Greg Brock, who returned from a two-day benching to hit his first home run in nearly five weeks.
Brock, whose 17th home run of the season tied the score, 1-1, in the second inning, also singled home a run in a three-run Dodger third after Mike Marshall’s RBI double and Mike Scioscia’s run-scoring single.
That was enough support for pitcher Bob Welch, who survived two solo home runs by Tim Wallach and Expo baserunners in every inning to win his 10th game in 13 decisions.
Living on the edge?
“Where else is there?” said Welch, who escaped a bases-loaded, no-out situation in the first by inducing Dodger nemesis Hubie Brooks (.409 average, 12 RBIs against Los Angeles this season) to tap back to the mound for a 1-2-3 double play.
“That seems to be the standpoint (sic) of my whole life,” Welch said. “At least this was just a baseball game.
“Brooks is an aggressive hitter, especially in that situation. He likes to swing at the first pitch.”
Brooks did just that, and broke his bat in the process.
“I was trying to run a ball in on him and jam him, maybe get him to pop up or hit it back to me,” Welch said.
Tom Niedenfuer entered after Wallach’s second homer, with two out in the eighth, to record his 15th save.
The Dodgers’ third straight win, played on a field left soggy by rain the night before, extended their lead over Cincinnati to 8 1/2 games and over third-place San Diego to nine.
The sweep of the Expos followed four straight losses to Philadelphia and coincided with with the Mets’ three-game sweep of defending champion San Diego.
“If you had told me going into the Phillies’ series that we’d be in the position we were after the Phillies’ series, I would have told you that you were crazy,” catcher Mike Scioscia said.
“And if you’d told me the same thing about the Montreal series, I would have said you were crazy about that, too. It’s a funny game. I don’t know why things work out that way.”
The Expos, meanwhile, dropped 10 games behind St. Louis in the East.
“Pretty bleak,” Manager Bob Rodgers said, assessing his Expos’ chances. “This series didn’t help.”
Brock, who sat out the first two games of the series and started the night hitless in his last 13 at-bats, wasn’t the only Dodger to snap a streak. Leadoff man Mariano Duncan ended an 0-for-27 string with an infield hit in the sixth, his only hit in four trips.
“Sooner or later it had to happen,” said Brock, who hadn’t hit a home run since July 26 against the Cubs here. “I knew I had to come out of it. It wasn’t like before. . . . It’s just one day you can’t hit the ball, then the next day you wonder if you’re ever going to hit it again.
“As soon as you can accept that, you learn to live with it.”
Welch, who had two losses and a no-decision in his last three starts, spotted the Expos a 1-0 lead when Wallach hit one over the left-field fence in the second inning for his 13th homer of the season.
The Expos had two more hits in the third, but Andre Dawson ran them out of the inning. Dawson had broken for second on a hit-and-run play, and Brooks grounded a ball to the spot just vacated by Steve Sax.
Sax managed to reverse fields in time to make a diving stop, while Dawson, apparently thinking the ball had gone through, continued toward third. He was tagged out easily by Bill Madlock in a rundown.
An error by Madlock and a hit batsman (Wallach) gave the Expos two more baserunners in the sixth. But Welch got out of it by striking out the guy with the best name in baseball, Anthony Raymond (Razor) Shines. Shines punctuated his futile pinch-hitting appearance by losing his grip on his bat, which missed first-base umpire Dutch Rennert by, well, a close shave.
Shines appeared three times as a pinch-hitter in this series, striking out twice and losing his bat both times. U.L. Washington opened the seventh with a pinch single, Montreal’s eighth hit of the night, but Madlock took extra bases away from Vance Law with a diving catch of Law’s low liner and Dawson went down swinging.
“The big thing,” Manager Tom Lasorda said, “is that we stopped the losing streak with a guy who was not one of our regular pitchers, Bobby Castillo. To win three games like this, I’m very proud of this club. And we’re fortunate that the other two teams (Reds and Padres) lost the last couple of nights.”
Enos Cabell of the Dodgers planned to catch a red-eye flight to Pittsburgh late Wednesday in order to testify today in the drug trafficking trial of Curtis Strong, a Philadelphia caterer. Cabell said he expected to be back in Los Angeles tonight, although it was possible that his testimony could be delayed a day or two. . . . Padre first baseman Steve Garvey, on the probability that Pedro Guerrero will break his L.A. Dodger home run record, told Tom Friend of the Times: “Records are made to be broken. I’ll have the record for Irish first basemen. He’s much bigger and stronger than me, anyway. But 33 was a nice achievement for me.” . . . Pedro Guerrero counseled patience with Mariano Duncan, whose hitless streak reached 0 for 24 entering Wednesday’s game. “He’s just not hitting,” Guerrero said. “He’s just going through something that everybody in baseball goes through.” . . . Manager Tom Lasorda, reacting to Kurt Bevacqua’s crack about how Lasorda should grow hair all over his body if he thinks beards are for ugly people: “Why should Bevacqua be getting on anybody? His face could hold three days of rain.” . . . Four Dodger executives--owner Peter O’Malley, Executive Vice President Fred Claire, minor league director Bill Schweppe and scouting director Ben Wade took a plane to Great Falls, Mont., where the Dodger affiliate was playing a home game for the Pioneer Rookie League championship. Great Falls lost, 8-6, to Salt Lake in the fifth and deciding game.