Dodgers Let Duncan Run, and He Scores to Beat Astros, 3-2

Times Staff Writer

The Dodgers made all the right night moves Friday night; the Houston Astros made none.

With apologies to Bob Seger, that made it another Hollywood night for the Dodgers, who beat the Astros and their ace, Bob Knepper, 3-2, before a Dodger Stadium crowd of 38,991.

The Dodgers broke a 2-2 tie in the eighth inning with an unearned run off Knepper, who was bidding to become the first 10-game winner in the National League.

Two Astros who had entered the game in the eighth, catcher Mark Bailey and center fielder Tony Walker, figured prominently in the Dodgers’ game-winning rally, which began with Mariano Duncan’s single up the middle.


Steve Sax followed with a bunt in front of the plate. Bailey grabbed the ball and tried for a force-out at second but bounced his throw for an error.

Bill Russell, who also came into the game in the top of the eighth as part of a Dodger double-switch, fouled off first a bunt attempt and then a hit-and-run, but succeeded in moving the runners along with a grounder to the right side.

Knepper, who came into the game 9-2, walked Bill Madlock intentionally to load the bases.

Mike Marshall, who had struck out in his previous two at-bats, lifted a fly ball to shallow center field. Walker made the catch, then threw home. His throw arrived on a hop just ahead of Duncan, but the Dodger shortstop--whose bunt single had driven in the Dodgers’ second run--came in with spikes high, and Bailey was unable to hold onto the ball.


“They (the Dodgers) did the right thing by sending Duncan,” Bailey said. “It was a short fly ball, and he was probably the only guy on their team who could have scored.”

The sacrifice fly was Marshall’s first of the season and made a winner of reliever Ken Howell, who had saved Thursday night’s game.

“If we don’t have Mariano at third, we can’t send the runner,” Marshall said. “We were fortunate that the fastest guy on the team was at third.”

Howell entered in the eighth and struck out Alan Ashby and Bailey with two runners on. Then in the ninth, catcher Mike Scioscia threw out Bill Doran attempting to steal, the second straight night he has nailed an Astro baserunner in Houston’s last at-bat.


The Dodgers trail first-place Houston by 4 1/2 games.

“We have to win,” said Dodger first baseman Enos Cabell, an ex-Astro.

“If they come in and beat us four straight, we’d wind up in Yugo or someplace.

“But if we keep playing better, I think you’ll see us start playing like we did last year. You’ll notice the concentration is much better, we’re into playing the game.”


Duncan, more than any other Dodger, has thrived since his three-error game Wednesday night. He said that just before Marshall’s fly ball, he had talked to third-base coach Joe Amalfitano about what to do in the event of a shallow fly.

“I knew Walker; I had played against him in the Florida State League, and I knew he had a great arm,” Duncan said.

“I told Joe that on a short pop fly, I wanted to make the decision, and he said OK. About 15 seconds later, that situation happened. I didn’t want to stay, I knew I could make it. He (Walker) had a great arm, but I have good speed.”

Duncan, reflecting on the three errors he had against the Phillies two nights earlier, recalled a game last season in Atlanta when he’d also made three errors.


“I remember I sat in front of my locker, said, ‘Oh my God,’ and cried,” he said. “But I don’t do that anymore. I know I can come back and play tomorrow.

“I have 15 errors already, and 11 or 12 of them were on routine plays. Sometimes, I’m really mad, because I’m supposed to make those plays.

“But those errors are in the past. I want to play again tomorrow.

“When you win, sometimes you’re too comfortable. I want to play tomorrow like we lost tonight.”


Even without a 10-meter platform, the Dodger outfield took more dives than Olympian Greg Louganis.

The one that earned a “10" across the boards was made by center fielder Reggie Williams, who went airborne to make a TWIB-ber on Denny Walling in the fifth.

What’s a TWIB-ber? A catch certain to make the highlights on “This Week in Baseball.”

Williams had just missed a similar catch on Bill Doran’s triple, which ended Houston’s string of 13 scoreless innings against the Dodgers.


“Manny Mota had told me that if I wanted to get an extra jump, I should look at where Mike (Scioscia) sets up for the pitch,” Williams said. “The first time (Doran’s ball), I missed him (Scioscia), but the second time I saw him set up on the outside part of the plate, so I anticipated that it would be hit that way.”

Williams also tripled in the fifth and scored on catcher Ashby’s wild pickoff throw.

The Astros, who had just two hits off Rick Honeycutt the previous night, needed a third-strike wild pitch to break through against Bob Welch.

Billy Hatcher swung at a pitch in the dirt and reached first when the ball bounced past Scioscia. Knepper popped out, but Hatcher stole second and scored on Doran’s drive to left center.


The Astros then tried to squeeze home Doran, but Craig Reynolds pushed the bunt down the third-base line, where Scioscia quickly pounced on it and threw out Doran after a brief rundown.

Left fielder Franklin Stubbs and right fielder Marshall also made shoe-string catches. And Stubbs, making his first start against a left-hander, had two doubles.

“Fun,” Stubbs said. “The thing is you have to concentrate against a left-hander. It’s so easy to give up. They sent me against the best. They put me in the fire to see what I could do.”

Welch, who hasn’t won in six starts since April 30, came out of the game after the sixth inning because of a stiff back.


Dodger Notes Steve Sax, talking about Steve Garvey’s first-ever ejection from the Padres-Braves game Thursday night: “I’ve never seen him get real mad. Maybe the worst was in 1982, when he was having a tough year, because of his contract and all. I thought he was just about to get tossed--he was standing at home plate arguing a play at third. When he got back to the dugout, I thought he might swear, but he sat down and said, ‘That’s the most disgusting call I’ve ever heard.’ That was it. He got it all out.” . . . Astro publicist Rob Matwick dug up some interesting stats relating to Bob Knepper’s quest to become the first 10-game winner in the league this season. Knepper would not be the earliest 10-game winner in Houston history. In 1971, Larry Dierker won his 10th on June 5, then had arm trouble the rest of the season and finished 12-6. In 1964, Turk Farrell was the first Houston pitcher to be the first in the league to win 10, but he finished the season 11-10. . . . Reggie Williams, who left his family behind when he was recalled from Albuquerque on April 28, finally has been reunited with wife Allyson, and 4-year-old daughter Nicole. But Williams still is hedging his bets on his job security. He and his family are living in an L.A. hotel for now. “I’m just taking it day by day,” he said. “I really don’t know yet (if he’s here to stay). I can’t be in a comfortable position.” . . . Bill Madlock went hitless in three trips Friday, extending his slump to 3 for 35.