The Dodgers were anything but bashful in advertising their playoff intentions Friday night. Extra sections were added along both foul lines for more seats, and the immaculately groomed field appeared to have been dyed a deeper shade of emerald by groundskeeper Chris Duca and his crew.
And when the game started, Orel Hershiser did his part in enhancing the postseason look, beating the San Francisco Giants, 6-2, before a crowd of 35,400 for his 18th win of the season, his 10th in a row and his 10th without a loss at Dodger Stadium.
The win reduced the Dodgers’ magic number to five over the Cincinnati Reds, who moved a game closer to being dead despite a dramatic, come-from-behind win over Houston that was history even before the Dodgers took the field. The Dodgers’ lead over Cincinnati remained 5 1/2 games.
Hershiser, who has possibly two more starts remaining in his bid to become the first Dodger pitcher to win 20 since Tommy John in 1977, carried a one-hitter into the eighth inning, then, with one out, ex-Dodger Ron Roenicke hit a pinch home run to account for the Giants’ second run.
In the third inning, Rob Deer walked, taken second on a sacrifice and scored on Dan Gladden’s line single to left for the Giants’ first run.
Hershiser finished with a four-hitter and has won 21 of his last 24 decisions dating back to last season, when he was transformed from an ineffective reliever to the Dodgers’ biggest winner, in part by a lecture on the fine points of pitching--or what Hershiser jokingly refers to as Manager Tom Lasorda’s “Sermon on the Mound.”
Hershiser said he didn’t even realize Friday night that extra seating sections had been added in the park until the fourth inning, when Bill Madlock leaned over to grab Jeff Leonard’s foul fly down the third-base line and Enos Cabell followed with a similar catch down the first-base line on Bob Brenly.
“I said to myself, ‘Hey, they took my foul territory away from me,”’ Hershiser said. “We may lose the playoffs and World Series because of the extra seats.
“They (Dodger management) must be expecting the playoffs more than we are.”
Hershiser, who has not lost since July 7 at St. Louis, his third defeat of the season, also has a shot at matching Burt Hooton’s club record of 12 consecutive wins, set in 1975.
The Dodgers, playing their final 10 games here, figured to have more than the usual home-field advantage against the Giants, who tied an all-time club record for losses on the road with their 55th of the season.
Friday’s defeat dropped the last-place Giants 31 games behind the Dodgers, a deficit the Giants haven’t seen since 1902, when they finished 40 back.
The Dodgers broke it open with four runs in the second off Vida Blue, whose quest for 200 career victories remained fixed at 198 after his second straight loss to Hershiser and the Dodgers. Blue is 0-4 against the Dodgers this season.
The Dodgers parlayed four hits, including Mariano Duncan’s RBI double, two passed balls, a walk, two stolen bases and an error into four runs against Blue, who won just one more game (30) in his first two seasons than Hershiser has won so far in his first two.
“We’re messing up a lot of fundamental plays,” said Roger Craig, the Giants’ new manager. “That’s going to take up a lot of my time in spring training.”
Candy Maldonado singled home a run in the fifth, and Duncan, who finished with three hits and two stolen bases, singled, stole second and scored on Madlock’s hit in the sixth.
Hershiser, who is 5-0 in September and has allowed just seven earned runs in 51 innings, ranks fifth in the league in wins, five behind leader Dwight Gooden of the Mets. His earned-run average of 2.06 is third, behind Gooden (1.51) and the Cardinals’ John Tudor (2.04).
Hershiser said he varied his approach little from his win last Sunday in San Francisco’s Candlestick Park.
“It was the same thing,” he said. “I had a good fastball and breaking ball, but not great command, especially of the fastball.
“They hit a lot of balls hard, but a guy named Mariano Duncan might have saved three or four hits.”
While Dodger Stadium already may have taken on the trappings of a playoff site, no one has asked for a concession speech yet from Cincinnati.
“All I know,” said Pedro Guerrero, who singled and walked twice and has hit safely in his four games since returning from his wrist injury, “is we’re still playing and they’re still playing.”
The race, however, moved one game closer to being played out.
Dodger Notes Mariano Duncan’s stolen bases Friday night were his 30th and 31st of the season. He stole third in the second inning and second in the sixth. Duncan has been caught just eight times. . . . Almost single-handedly, Duncan has made the Dodgers a better running team than they were last season. They’ve stolen 125 bases and have been caught just 54 times in 1985, a percentage of 69.8; in 1984, they stole 109 bases and were caught 69 times, a 61.2 percentage. . . . Steve Sax stole his 27th base, seven fewer than his total in 1984, but he has been caught only 11 times this season, compared to 19 last season. . . . The Dodgers voted before the game on playoff shares. . . . Atlee Hammaker, who was scheduled to start for the Giants this afternoon, had a sore left elbow and won’t pitch until Tuesday. Instead, Dave LaPoint (7-15) will oppose Jerry Reuss (13-10), with Roger Mason (0-2) pitching against Bob Welch (12-4) Sunday.