The Astrodome will never be called the House that Cabell Built. For better or worse, history will hold Judge Roy Hofheinz responsible.
Enos Cabell just worked under the roof here for the better part of eight seasons. But Monday night, with Cabell playing here for the first time in a Dodger uniform, the Astros showed something less than respect for the man who once was voted their most valuable player (1979) and was the team captain up until the July day he was traded.
With first base open and left-hander Jeff Calhoun pitching with runners on second and third in the eighth, the Astros elected to pitch to Cabell with the game on the line. And Cabell, pinch-hitting for Greg Brock, made them pay for the slight. He brought the curtain down by lining a two-run single that broke a 3-3 tie and sent the Dodgers to a 5-3 win that extended their lead over Cincinnati to six games in the National League West and reduced their magic number to eight with a dozen games left to play.
“All I can say is, ‘Thank you very much,’ ” Cabell said. “I’m not scared of a situation like that.
“I can’t understand his (Houston Manager Bob Lillis’) reasoning, either. I was expecting him to walk me.”
Lillis said he was hoping for a ground ball out of Cabell. Instead, he got to watch Cabell clap his hands and thrust his right fist into the air after his line drive fell safely in right-center field.
“I’m an emotional player,” Cabell said, “and I like happiness.”
There were many happy returns for the Dodgers, most notably the one made by Pedro Guerrero, who couldn’t stand another boring minute of watching his teammates play without him. Despite a sprained left wrist that caused him to swing one-handed at times, Guerrero had three hits, reached base four times, drove in the Dodgers’ first run and singled to start the winning rally.
All that after missing the last 17 games.
“It’s really sore every swing,” Guerrero said, “but as long as it doesn’t get worse that’s fine with me.”
The first time up, Guerrero said, the pain was so strong that even if Houston starter Mike Scott had thrown a 3-and-2 pitch down the middle of the plate, he wouldn’t have swung. Scott made that academic by walking him.
In the second, when Jose Cruz lifted a foul fly ball to left, Guerrero pulled up well short of the seats.
“That’s the way it’s going to be, you know,” said Guerrero, taking no chances. That’s the way he’d sprained the wrist in the first place, banging it against the box-seat railing at Dodger Stadium on Sept. 7.
Then there was the return to form of reliever Tom Niedenfuer, who erased the last six Astro batters, striking out three and allowing just one, Glenn Davis, to hit a fair ball. Davis grounded to shortstop Mariano Duncan.
There also was one comeback, one abrupt exit, and one near-collision that could have cost the Dodgers the game.
The comeback belonged to the Astros, and was made possible when Dodger Manager Tom Lasorda lifted Rick Honeycutt even though the left-hander had a 3-0 lead and was working on a three-hit shutout.
Lasorda called for Carlos Diaz, who promptly gave up a two-run triple to Bill Doran, who eventually scored on a fielder’s choice. Tie game.
Honeycutt had a little meeting with Lasorda in the manager’s office after the game, but that doesn’t mean he understood Lasorda’s decision any better.
“I gave up the double and walked a guy to open up the door for them,” Honeycutt said. “But if anything, that’s why I was unhappy. The way I felt I was throwing the ball, I thought I could pitch out of it.”
By then, right fielder Mike Marshall was out of it. Marshall, who struck out his first two times up Monday and has now fanned six straight times, went back to the bench after the last K, picked up his glove and disappeared down the runway. Trainer Bill Buhler soon followed.
Marshall had already left the clubhouse by the time reporters entered.
“He doesn’t feel well,” said Buhler, who wouldn’t elaborate.
Lasorda said Marshall was feeling a little “woozy” and may have come down with a flu bug that also had afflicted reliever Ken Howell and the manager himself.
“I just saw him leave; he didn’t say anything,” said Marshall’s closest friend on the team, Steve Sax, whose two-run triple in the top of the sixth had given the Dodgers a 3-0 lead.
“He was down a little bit, but I don’t think that was the reason he left. No way. I know Mike, and there’s no way he would have left because of that.”
With Marshall gone, Lasorda dispatched rookie Jose Gonzalez to right, where he was in the wrong place when Ken Landreaux drifted over to catch Phil Garner’s fly ball in the seventh. Landreaux stopped short of running over Gonzalez, who said he didn’t hear Landreaux calling for the ball, but he also didn’t catch the ball, either. It went off his glove for a three-base error.
“I think that was noncommunication, miscommunication, or no communication,” Lasorda said.
Diaz, however, eliminated the static by getting the next three batters. Duncan, despite playing in, made a nice stop in the hole and threw out Dickie Thon. John Mizerock struck out, and Tim Tolman flied out to Landreaux.
An inning later, Cabell welcomed himself home, and the Dodgers moved that much closer to being home free.
Bill Russell said he is a “question mark” for the playoffs because of blurred vision in his right eye, a condition that has not improved in the two weeks since he first began experiencing it. Russell, who has seen eye specialists in San Diego and Fullerton, plans to see the Fullerton specialist this weekend after the team returns home. Russell said he has fluid and some swelling behind the eye near the optic nerve, which is causing his vision to be blurred. It also makes dark colors appear darker than they are, he said. “The doctors have told me it will go away,” Russell said, “but this is a bad time of year.” Doctors do not know what caused the condition, he said.
Bill Madlock’s fourth-inning double extended his hitting streak to 16 games, matching Pedro Guerrero for the longest streak on the Dodgers this season. . . . Steve Sax, with two singles and a triple, is batting .281. . . . Bob Bailor, whose pinch single preceded Enos Cabell’s game-winner, has only 11 at-bats this month. It was his third hit.