Dodgers Go From Pits to Weird Win at Pittsburgh, 6-4
As experienced as they are, announcers Ross Porter and Jerry Doggett still should have stepped aside for the Dodgers’ 6-4 win in 11 innings over the Pittsburgh Pirates Friday night.
Vin Scully, who wasn’t there, must have known something, for on this night, they should have thrown a tent over Three Rivers Stadium and stationed a carnival barker outside, one accustomed to the Two-Headed Man, the Bearded Lady and the Oldest Baby in the World.
Step right up, folks, and for the next 4 hours 18 minutes watch the bizarre become commonplace and the unexpected turn predictable.
“I believe it,” said Steve Sax, whose bases-loaded infield hit finally ended the game and the Dodgers’ three-game losing streak, a carry-over from New York, even though Sax really didn’t see the hit because his helmet had slipped over his eyes.
“I’ll believe anything now.”
--See Orel Hershiser, spotted a 4-0 lead when his good buddy, ex-Dodger Sid Bream, threw a bunt into left field for a two-run error, suddenly see home plate vanish before his very eyes.
Hershiser, normally the epitome of control, threw 10 straight balls and walked in two runs, then gave up a game-tying, two-run single to Bill Almon before disappearing himself in the fourth inning, his earliest exit in almost a year.
“I don’t know what happened, but I must have lost my release point,” Hershiser said. “It was like the Twilight Zone out there.”
--See Tom Niedenfuer, whose arm should have been as shot as his mind had been blown, roll out of the bullpen for the fourth straight night and strike out the side in the ninth inning and pitch out of a bases-loaded jam in the 10th.
Niedenfuer had been human fodder for batters until he tried striking back with a vengeance Tuesday night in a bench-clearing brawl with the Mets. He has had three strong outings in a row since then, and Friday he had a win, his third of the season.
“You never know what will wake you up sometimes,” Niedenfuer said.
--See the Dodgers, held to three hits in eight innings after the second inning, score two runs on one hit in the 11th without getting a ball out of the infield.
--See the Pirates, out of players, wind up using a catcher, Tony Pena, at first; a first baseman, Bream, in left; a shortstop, Sammy Khalifa, at second; one pitcher, Rick Reuschel, as a pinch-runner, and another pitcher, Rick Rhoden, as a pinch-hitter.
And see them almost get away with it, which they might have if pitcher Jose DeLeon had remembered to cover first base on Sax’s one-hop grounder to Pena, who had played first base just three times before and this time slipped when he fielded the ball.
The Dodgers had a chance to win the game in regulation when they put runners on first and third with one out in the ninth. But pinch-hitter Len Matuszek struck out and Sax tapped to short.
But in the 11th, after Niedenfuer had gotten Sammy Khalifa to pop out with the bases loaded in the bottom of the 10th, the Dodgers finally broke through.
And, naturally, the rally was as goofy as they come. Reggie Williams, who entered the game as a pinch-runner in the seventh, drew a walk from DeLeon, stole second and went to third on a wild pitch.
DeLeon hit the next batter, Franklin Stubbs, in the foot, and Stubbs stole second. DeLeon went 2-and-0 to Mariano Duncan, then, anticipating a possible squeeze play, threw two straight pitchouts, giving Duncan an unintentional intentional walk.
Dodger Manager Tom Lasorda sent up Cesar Cedeno to pinch hit. Cedeno struck out on three pitches. That brought up Sax, who was wearing Bill Russell’s helmet because he had broken his own with an angry fling in New York.
Sax fouled off a tough 1-and-2 breaking pitch from DeLeon, then hit a spinner toward Pena, who slipped to one knee.
“My helmet fell down over my eyes as soon as I hit the ball,” Sax said. “I looked up and saw that Pena had it, but he was looking for DeLeon and he wasn’t going to take it himself.”
Pena, about 15 feet from the bag, had no chance of making the play himself.
“I saw DeLeon was slow getting there,” Sax said, “and when he got close to me, I slid because I didn’t want to take the chance that Pena might throw it to him and DeLeon would tag me.”
Sax’s tumble into the bag beat Pena. The Dodgers added another run when Pat Clements, the fifth Pirate pitcher, walked Ken Landreaux.
But there was still one final bit of craziness left. Lasorda, out of pitchers, called on Alejandro Pena, who hadn’t saved a game since 1983 and was attempting to do so here with a shoulder of still-uncertain quality.
Pena came within an out of getting his save, striking out Pirate rookie Barry Bonds and getting pinch-hitter Rhoden on a tapper to the mound.
But Pena also put the tying runs on the corners with two walks and a stolen base.
So Lasorda had no recourse but to wave in Wednesday’s starter, Jerry Reuss, who had thrown for 20 minutes in the bullpen in the third inning. But that was just supposed to be his work between starts.
Instead, the left-hander came in and registered his first save since 1984 by retiring Bream on a roller to Stubbs at first.
The Pirates used 21 players, the Dodgers 19. The Pirates were forced to use catcher Tony Pena at first base when Johnny Ray, the league’s leading hitter, strained his left hamstring on his 10th-inning double. The only non-pitcher left on the Pirate bench was catcher Junior Ortiz. . . . There were 16 walks in the game. . . . Orel Hershiser’s departure was his earliest since last June 8, when he lasted 1 innings against the Braves at Atlanta. . . . Ed Vande Berg allowed just one hit in 2 scoreless innings, and Ken Howell did the same in two. Howell also retired R.J. Reynolds, his former roommate, on a ground ball in the seventh. Howell, referring to a spring-training newspaper story in which he said he couldn’t wait to face Reynolds, said: “He has the paper now. If he gets a hit, I have to eat it. If I strike him out, he does. And I’m not eating that article.” . . . Ex-Dodger Sid Bream has 21 extra-base hits out of his 41 hits this season. Bream has 12 doubles, 2 triples and 7 home runs.