Once again, the Dodgers pushed one more starting pitcher to the limit. Bob Welch lasted longer than he ever has in the big leagues and struck out a career-high 12 batters, but he couldn’t outlast the Dodger defense.
And once more, the San Diego Padres reached to the outer limits, turning a Dodger single into a double play, a panic-stricken rookie into a game-saver and a one-legged bullpen catcher into a game-winner in a 4-3, 11-inning win before 25,432 in Jack Murphy Stadium Monday night.
“I’ve seen a lot of amazing things the last couple of days, but that might top it all,” said Padre Manager Steve Boros, who has been remarkably consistent in his first week as San Diego manager.
Eight times the Padres have played this season. Eight times a game has been decided by one run, a major league record.
Monday’s was decided by Bruce Bochy, who led off the bottom of the 11th with a home run off Dodger reliever Ed Vande Berg.
Bochy, who has a twisted left knee and a doctor’s appointment this morning, didn’t even want to play Monday.
“I told them I couldn’t run,” Bochy said. “They laughed and said, ‘You can’t run, anyway.’ ”
So Bochy, after knocking a Vande Berg curveball over the center-field fence, took his victory lap a limp at a time.
“I can’t take it no more,” said Tony Gwynn, who reached second on Ken Landreaux’s two-base error in the 10th and scored the tying run on John Kruk’s first big league hit after Mariano Duncan’s first home run of the season had given the Dodgers a 3-2 lead in the top of the 10th.
“It looks like you won it, then you lost it, then won it. I guess the bottom line is winning it.”
Not for the Dodgers, who also have played eight one-run games and lost five of them.
“They’ll make you an old man,” Dodger Manager Tom Lasorda said. “They make you feel old.”
Any more nights like Monday, and Bob Welch will be old before his time. Welch, one year removed from a bad elbow, threw 149 pitches in 9 innings, coming out only after Kruk hit a sharp grounder between the hole in first and second to score Gwynn with the tying run.
Welch had pitched a three-hit, 1-0 shutout last week to beat the Padres, but this may have been a better game. He gave up a home run to Steve Garvey that tied the score, 2-2, in the sixth.
But in the eighth, after Gwynn--who had struck out three times for the first time in 460 big league games--had reached third on a single that became a three-base advance when the ball went through the legs of center-fielder Cesar Cedeno, Welch struck out Garvey and Terry Kennedy.
In the ninth, with two on, he struck out pinch-hitter Dane Iorg and retired Marvell Wynne on a fly ball.
But he couldn’t survive what was supposed to be a defensive maneuver, when Lasorda put Landreaux in left in place of Franklin Stubbs. Gwynn, the first batter in the 10th, hit a line drive down the left-field line that glanced off Landreaux’s glove and into the Padre bullpen.
“I think he should have got a hit,” Landreaux said. “It tipped my glove. I had to reach for it. It was still slicing. I didn’t get to it quite enough.”
Lasorda, same play: “Didn’t you see it? You guys are experts. You’ve seen a lot of games. You can judge. What do you think?”
Two outs and an intentional walk later, up came Kruk, batting for Jerry Royster.
“I’ve been kind of in my own little world, not being able to get that first hit,” Kruk said. “I was kind of panic-stricken. (Tim) Flannery threatened me if I didn’t calm down.”
Kruk calmed down and delivered, and Welch made his exit. Vande Berg and his 7.71 earned-run average entered. He got out of the 10th by getting Flannery to pop up, then came Bochy.
These days, a Dodger pitcher has to be a survivor. Saturday, it was Fernando Valenzuela throwing 143 pitches in his second start of the season. Sunday, it was Orel Hershiser, going the distance despite an almond-sized blister on the middle finger of his pitching hand.
The Padres forced extra innings by turning two Dodger hits into a double play in the ninth. Steve Sax, who had three hits, doubled off Lance McCullers to open the ninth.
Mike Scioscia then followed by lining a single just off the line in right. But Padre right fielder Gwynn charged the ball, backhanded it and in one motion fired to the plate. Sax, running on a sore right heel, pulled up lame and was tagged out at the plate by catcher Terry Kennedy for one out.
Kennedy then threw down to second , where Scioscia was tagged out in a rundown.
Sax is scheduled to be examined today.
Even though Franklin Stubbs had home runs in each of his last three games, Manager Tom Lasorda sat him down against Padre left-hander Mark Thurmond. Bill Russell played left and Cesar Cedeno (in lieu of Ken Landreaux) was in center. Lasorda said he was tempted to keep Stubbs in the lineup. “But I don’t want to do that to him. I want to play Cedeno and Russell.” On Sunday, after Stubbs’ third home run, ninth RBI and ninth strikeout in 18 at-bats, Lasorda had said: “A home run hitter is going to strike out a lot, anyway. Look at Babe Ruth and Reggie Jackson. Look at Mike Marshall. He struck out a lot last year and still hit 28 home runs. Stubbs is going to strike out a lot, but he’s going to improve. He’s got awesome power to any field. He can hit 30, 35 home runs in this league.” . . . Dodger catcher Mike Scioscia, who was involved in five tag plays at the plate in the first seven games--in each case, the runner was out--said he can’t recall having three collisions like he had in the Giant series happen one after another. Scioscia took shots from Chris Brown (Friday), Candy Maldonado (Friday) and Chili Davis (Sunday) and held his ground-and the ball--each time. “I’m not really into collisions,” Scioscia said. “The odds on five plays like that are so great. You have to have a great situation for the runner, and the outfielder charging the ball and making a great throw.”