The Dodgers crushed the Padres, 10-0, Monday night in the opener of a showdown series that hardly anybody is showing up to see.
A crowd of 9,054 at San Diego Jack Murphy Stadium saw Orel Hershiser toss his first shutout since blanking the Expos, 4-0, on Sept. 3, 1985.
In losing their fourth straight, the Padres made three errors, and starter and loser rookie Ray Hayward (0-2) threw three wild pitches.
The Dodgers, meanwhile, put on an impressive display of power and pitching in breaking their own four-game losing streak.
Hitting against five Padre pitchers, the Dodgers had 15 hits and scored single runs in each of the first three innings, a run in the sixth, three in the seventh, two in the eighth and one in the ninth.
Pedro Guerrero hit his third home run in three games, a blast to right-center field; Mike Scioscia hit his fifth homer of the season, and Jose Gonzalez hit his second, this one over the center-field fence.
Steve Sax, facing an uphill climb in his attempt to win the National League batting title, was 2 for 2 (a single and a triple), with three walks. Sax picked up two points to place him at .328, nine points behind Tim Raines of Montreal, The Expos were idle Monday.
Padre right-fielder Tony Gwynn, who rested Monday, is barely ahead of Sax, .32850 to .32845.
The beneficiary of the Dodgers’ onslaught was Hershiser, who allowed eight hits, did not walk a batter and struck out four. Hershiser (14-13) had lost five of his last six decisions and six of eight before Monday.
“Let’s face it,” Hershiser said, “this game didn’t mean a whole lot. But it’s times like these when you can work on things. I was encouraged that I could get people out with my changeup. Maybe I can take it and learn something for next year.”
Next year seemed to be dominating a lot of conversations among players on these teams. But what about the final week of the season?
Since only the top three teams in a division finish “in the money,” is there really a big psychological difference between finishing fifth or last?
“It’s a terrible onus to finish in last,” said Padre Manager Steve Boros, who has never played, coached or managed on a last-place major league club. “You do not want to finish last. Trust me on that.”
Dodger Manager Tom Lasorda bristled at the question.
“When teams I manage don’t finish first,” Lasorda said, “I’m not satisfied at all. If we finished fifth, it would be embarrassing to me.”