After he’d beaten the Reds, 8-2, for his seventh straight win in the first game of the doubleheader Friday night, Orel Hershiser turned his attention to Alejandro Pena, the Dodger pitcher who was following him to the mound in the second game.
“That’s quite a rehabilitation program,” Hershiser said. “Having to make your first start in the middle of a pennant race.”
If the Dodgers weren’t feeling a little bit like Secretariat at this stage of the race, it’s almost certain that Pena would never have gotten the chance to test his right shoulder under these circumstances.
As it was, the experiment was a brief one: Pena lasted 2 innings, threw 42 pitches and allowed an unearned run before leaving with a 2-1 lead. And it certainly wasn’t Pena’s fault that the Reds kept the Dodgers from disappearing from sight completely by coming back to win the second game, 6-5, on a single by Los Angeles native Eric Davis in the bottom of the ninth.
Davis, who was batting .185 and had entered the game as a pinch-runner for Tony Perez in the seventh, lined his game-winner off Dodger bullpen ace Tom Niedenfuer.
Niedenfuer, who also gave up a meaningless home run to Bo Diaz in the ninth inning of the first game, has been scored upon in his last five appearances.
He came into the second game after his running mate, Ken Howell, had surrendered an RBI single to Perez and a three-run home run to Nick Esasky, wiping out the Dodgers’ 4-1 lead in the fifth.
Steve Sax’s two-out triple and Bill Madlock’s pinch single tied the score against John Franco in the eighth, but Niedenfuer walked Eddie Milner to open the ninth. Milner eluded Mariano Duncan’s tag and stole second, aided by what catcher Mike Scioscia contended was interference by batter Dave Parker.
Parker, the league’s leading RBI man (101) but held to one single in eight trips Friday night, was walked intentionally. The runners were on the move when Davis lined a ball over the head of left fielder Candy Maldonado.
After nearly six hours of baseball, the Reds were no closer to first place--they still trail the Dodgers by 8 1/2 games--while the Dodgers had trimmed their magic number by one, to 16. Any combination of Dodger wins and Red losses totaling 16, and the Dodgers are division champions.
“They’re in the driver’s seat, and everyone knows it,” said Pete Rose, who played for the first time since the Big Knock and went 0 for 2 against Hershiser, walking twice.
“But it’s good for them to know we’re not going to roll over and die.”
With his elbow packed in ice and his expression nearly as frozen, that was more than apparent to Niedenfuer, who finally had gotten some rest in the last couple of days but was unable to give the Dodgers any respite.
“Frustrating? Sure it is,” he said. “What’s that, about eight screwed-up games in a row for me? Well, at least we split.”
Two home runs by Mike Marshall, giving him five in his last eight games and a career-high 22 for the season, plus Hershiser’s six-hit pitching had assured the Dodgers of at least a split in the first game.
Hershiser, now 15-3, has allowed just two earned runs in his last 33 innings. He didn’t need to sit down on the Riverfront Stadium mound like Eric Show, the Big Knockee, had donen just two nights earlier.
How did it feel to be the first pitcher to face Rose after Nos. 4,192 and 4,193?
“It was fine,” Hershiser said. “It was no different. He had no aura about him.
“Holy smokes, he’s only a legend.”
Hershiser was in trouble once, when he loaded the bases with two out in the fifth. But he jammed Parker with a fastball and got a weak tapper to first for an inning-ending out.
Marshall struck out his first three times up against Red starter Andy McGaffigan. But then he connected with a man on in the seventh off Bob Buchanan and again in the ninth, when he hit the third big-league pitch ever thrown by Red rookie Rob Murphy.
In some ways, when Pena took the mound at 9:17 p.m. EDT and threw ball one to leadoff batter Milner in the second game, he was no further advanced than Murphy. Pena was pitching for the first time since arthroscopic surgery on his right shoulder last February, an operation that will force him to be a different pitcher than the one who threw 90-m.p.h. fastballs as a steady diet.
Pena wound up walking Milner on a full count, and walked him again in the third. He gave up hits to Dave Van Gorder in the second and Buddy Bell in the third, with Bell his last batter. He threw 23 strikes and 19 balls.
“I don’t think he threw as well as he had in the simulated games or on the side,” catcher Scioscia said. “But he proved to himself that his shoulder is healthy and it’s going to get better.”
Pena said he was “very happy with what I did tonight” but admitted to “a little bit of pain, more than normal.” He thought that might have been a result of having to sit down between innings in the dugout.
“I thought he threw fine,” pitching coach Ron Perranoski said. “He was fluid and he didn’t force anything. He had pretty good control for being off that long and after what he’s gone through. We didn’t want to put extra pressure on him.”
Asked if the Dodgers had a definite plan for Pena, Perranoski said: “Winter ball is going to be his game plan. We’re in a pennant race, we can’t experiment all the time.”
Dodger Notes Pedro Guerrero was examined by two doctors in Los Angeles on Friday: team physician Frank Jobe and wrist specialist Herbert Stark. Their diagnosis, according to an announcement by Dodger officials, is that Guerrero’s left wrist is sprained. It was placed in a cast, and Guerrero was supposed to fly out this morning and arrive here before tonight’s game. Guerrero will be out from three to five days, according to the Dodgers, although Greg Brock’s experience last season is ample evidence that a wrist sprain can remain troublesome for an extended period of time. Brock sprained his right wrist a year ago last April, tried to play with it, then ended up on the disabled list on May 12. Brock contended that his wrist wasn’t at full strength until after he returned from a stint in the minors on July 31. . . . Pete Rose was honored at a midday ceremony in the city’s Fountain Square. The day before, Second Street was renamed Pete Rose Way. Numerous luminaries, as you might expect, sent congratulatory telegrams to Rose. “Here’s one I didn’t expect--Elton John,” Rose said. “I’ve never met him in my life.” . . . In his last seven appearances spanning 10 innings, Tom Niedenfuer has allowed 9 runs on 19 hits. Niedenfuer has been scored upon in six of those seven appearances. Ken Howell, in 19 appearances since July 25, has given up 13 runs in 29 innings, allowing four home runs, eight walks and 26 hits.