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Rain Not Only Saves Dodgers, It Washes Away Clark’s Homer

Times Staff Writer

Rain seems the apt meteorological mode for the Dodgers, whose spirits often have been dampened by a downpour of losses in the first half of a season that began with a brighter forecast.

But the heavy rain that periodically pelted Busch Stadium’s artificial turf here Monday night turned out to be the Dodgers’ ally.

The Dodgers were trailing the St. Louis Cardinals, 3-2, with one out in the bottom of the fourth when heavy rain hit for the second time after the first pitch.

After a 2-hour 20-minute delay, the rain had subsided and the tarp was rolled off the field. And Dodger pitcher Brian Holton, taking over for starter Rick Honeycutt, was warming up.

At 11:40 p.m. (CDT), play was about to resume when light rain began falling once again. A minute later, the Dodgers were waved off the field by umpire John McSherry, the crew chief. Moments thereafter, the downpour began again.

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Monday night’s game will be made up as the second game of a doubleheader Wednesday night. Tonight, the Dodgers and Cardinals will play a doubleheader necessitated by a rainout here on May 3.

Just before the game was officially called, Dodger Manager Tom Lasorda stormed onto the field to consult with the umpires. But McSherry said Lasorda did not threaten to protest the game because of rainy conditions.

“We looked at it this way,” McSherry said. “If we start it now and stop it after the top of the fifth, it’s not fair to either team that’s behind. And the forecast was calling for more rain. Look outside now, it’s pouring.”

The long-delayed rainout was definitely better received by the Dodgers than the Cardinals.

It washed away a potential club-record eighth straight loss by Honeycutt--who served up Jack Clark’s 25th home run of the season that did not count--and also a poorly executed and embarrassingly bungled rundown play in the third inning that gave St. Louis the go-ahead run.

The slate will be wiped clean now, but Lasorda, with a gleam in his eyes, insisted that he wanted it to continue.

“We were going to come back and win it,” Lasorda said with a straight face. “I think they (the Cardinals) got the break.”

Perhaps the most disappointed person at Busch Stadium was Clark, who had his 25th home run erased.

“Boy, was he (ticked) off, or what?” Lasorda said of Clark. “He lost out on the home run. “But Scioscia was (upset), too. He lost a (rare) stolen base.”

Dodger players seemed relieved and pleased, especially that the bungled rundown will not count against them.

It was a defensive misadventure that will live in infamy--at least until the next one.

The situation:

With St. Louis pitcher Joe Magrane on third after leading off the third with a single, and Ozzie Smith on first after a single, Tommy Herr stepped to the plate.

Honeycutt gave considerable attention to Smith at first, and he was able to pick him off the base. That was when the Dodger rundown play resulted in a run.

Jeff Hamilton, playing first base because of an injury to Pedro Guerrero and Lasorda’s preference of using a right-handed-hitting lineup against a left-hander, began the rundown by throwing to shortstop Dave Anderson at second.

Anderson chased Smith back toward first and threw to Hamilton. Hamilton ran after Smith toward second and threw to second baseman Steve Sax.

At that point, Magrane seemingly saw that the Dodgers were preoccupied with Smith, so he broke from third. Sax turned and cocked, but he froze. He did not throw to home plate, and he did not throw to first, either. Magrane had scored the go-ahead run, and Smith was safe.

“I bobbled the ball before I threw it, and that’s why I didn’t throw it,” Sax said. “I don’t know if I would have gotten (Magrane). It would have been close.”

But Sax wasn’t the only offender among Dodger infielders. Anderson threw the ball back to Hamilton too soon, allowing Smith to break back toward second.

“That was the first mistake,” Lasorda said. “Not throwing the ball was the other one. I’m not going to forget that play.”

If Honeycutt was shaken, he didn’t immediately show it. He struck out Tommy Herr for the second out. Clark delivered a single to keep the rally going, but Honeycutt struck out Willie McGee to end the threat.

Despite five strikeouts through three innings, Honeycutt still seemed to be staring at his eighthstraight loss, which would be a club record and erased the names Dave Goltz and Jerry Reuss from the Dodger record book.

His only hope was that either the rain would wash out the game before 4 1/2 innings were completed or that the Dodger offense would support him.

The rain came in the bottom of the fourth, with the Dodgers still trailing, 3-2.

“That’s the first (break) I’ve had in a while, yeah,” said Honeycutt, who drove in one of the Dodgers’ two second-inning runs with a double. “It gives me new life.

“Even though I hung a breaking ball (to Clark), I made some good pitches and I feel back on track.”

The lineup the Dodgers presented was vastly different than even some of their more creative ones, because of Guerrero’s nagging neck injury and Lasorda’s platoon system.

Hamilton hadn’t played first base in years, but he found himself there. “If (Cincinnati’s) Dave Parker can play first, Hamilton sure can,” Lasorda reasoned.

Mickey Hatcher started in left field in place of Guerrero, Phil Garner at third and Mike Marshall returned to right field after missing three games with a strained left thigh.

But that lineup will not appear in the box score. Nor will another apparent Dodger loss.

Dodger Notes

For a while, the reason Pedro Guerrero did not start Monday night’s game was a mystery. An angry Guerrero would not say why he took himself out of the lineup, and Manager Tom Lasorda said he did not know. Said Trainer Bill Buhler: “We don’t know.” Finally, infield coach Bill Russell said Guerrero complained of a neck injury. Guerrero screamed at a reporter who asked him why he took himself out of the lineup. “I can’t (bleeping) play, that’s all. Get the (bleep) out of my face, you (bleeper).” . . . Mariano Duncan was going to start in Guerrero’s place, but he developed a migraine headache and had to be scratched.

Orel Hershiser said that the stiffness in his back that forced him to leave Sunday’s 6-1 win over Pittsburgh did not bother him Monday. “I’m fine,” he said. "(Physical therapist Pat Screnar) gave me some treatment. It was nothing extraordinary.” . . . Brad Havens will get his first start tonight in the first game of a doubleheader against the Cardinals. Havens will oppose Rick Horton (3-0). In the second game, Tim Leary (1-3) faces Lee Tunnell (3-2). . . . Mike Ramsey, who was the Dodgers’ opening-day center fielder, has been optioned to the club’s Double-A team in San Antonio after playing in Albuquerque. Ramsey was sent down to make room for Ralph Bryant, sent down by the Dodgers last week when Mariano Duncan returned from the disabled list.


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