Stubbs Breathes New Life Into Dead Wood in Dodgers’ 5-3 Win

Times Staff Writer

So profound had Dodger outfielder Franklin Stubbs’ hitting slump become that, out of sheer desperation, he borrowed teammate Phil Garner’s bat Tuesday night against the Cincinnati Reds.

Didn’t Stubbs remember that Garner is hitting .209 using that bat?

“Yeah,” Stubbs said. “That’s why I knew there were some hits left in it.”

The change of bats resulted in a change of fortunes for Stubbs, who went 2 for 4 and had 3 runs batted in to help pitcher Orel Hershiser and the Dodgers beat the Reds, 5-3, before a crowd of 14,759 at Riverfront Stadium.

Stubbs’ hits, including a two-run triple in a four-run third inning, ended an 0-for-33 streak. In the previous 12 games since his return from a dislocated shoulder, Stubbs has had only one hit and saw his average hover near a Garnerian .226.


“Sometimes, you just got to do something different,” Stubbs said. “I was trying everything. I’m no different than anyone else. You try anything. Tonight, I just went back to the basics because I was lost at the plate. When you’re lost, you’re out of hope.”

But Stubbs, who found himself back in the lineup after a two-game benching, regained hope and a smoother batting stroke by using Garner’s bat, which is an inch shorter and two ounces lighter than Stubbs’ own.

“About time somebody got something with that bat,” said Garner. “I mean, it’s been like a closet hanging rack. I’m delighted to contribute, even if I didn’t do anything.”

Stubbs’ third-inning triple really should have been only a run-scoring single, but Leo Garcia, the Reds’ rookie center fielder, misplayed the ball. It was a bad night all around for Garcia, who went 0 for 5 and misplayed another single that became a run in the sixth.

Afterward, Reds Manager Pete Rose blamed disgruntled outfielder Tracy Jones for Garcia’s problems. Jones recently has been critical of Rose’s decision to replace the injured Eric Davis with Garcia instead of himself.

“To be honest with you, I think the situation the last couple of days has hurt Leo,” said Rose, whose team fell six games behind San Francisco in the National League West. “He’s not the same player he was.”


Stubbs, who hasn’t been thrilled with the Dodgers’ decision to play Pedro Guerrero at first base, no doubt wishes he could blame someone else for his problems at the plate.

But Stubbs, now in left field, doesn’t blame his injury or Guerrero’s takeover of first base.

“What can I say, I just want to play,” Stubbs said. “At one time, I was the first baseman. Now, Pete’s over there. I can’t worry about that now.”

Stubbs’ sixth-inning single off Reds starter Ron Robinson scored Steve Sax, who had tripled on Garcia’s second misplayed ball. Guerrero and John Shelby each had run-scoring doubles off Robinson. Hershiser (14-13) allowed three runs and seven hits in seven innings, his National League-leading earned-run average resting at 2.71. Of the hits Hershiser allowed, he wished for only one back. That was Kal Daniels’ two-run home run in the first inning. The Reds’ other run against Hershiser came in the fifth on three ground-ball singles, including Jeff Treadway’s two-out chopper between first and second that scored Barry Larkin.

“I made one bad pitch, and that was to Daniels,” Hershiser said. “The other inning, any of those ground balls could have been outs, but they went through. That’s just another example of how artificial turf hurts me. In Dodger Stadium, those balls are outs.”

While the Dodgers (58-80) are locked in a struggle with the San Diego Padres for the NL West cellar--the Dodger win coupled with a Padre loss Tuesday put the Dodgers two games ahead--Hershiser is in a battle for the league’s ERA title with Houston’s Nolan Ryan and Mike Scott, San Francisco’s Rick Reuschel and New York’s Dwight Gooden.


“That’s awful fast company,” Hershiser said. “I’d just like to win some games, keep us out of the cellar in the last month.”

In the late innings Tuesday, Hershiser needed help from reliever Alejandro Pena, who worked out of Hershiser’s jam in the eighth and struck out three Reds in the ninth for his third save.

Dodger Notes Orel Hershiser’s uncle, John, suffered a heart attack Tuesday in Ontario, Calif., and was listed in critical condition in a local hospital. Hershiser was not notified until after Tuesday night’s game. He is considering returning to Los Angeles. “It kind of puts your priorities in line when something like this happens,” Hershiser said. . . . Add Manager Tom Lasorda to the list of Dodger wounded. Lasorda hurt the third finger on his left hand trying to catch a foul ball in the dugout Tuesday night. The tip of the finger was severely swollen. After the game, he soaked the finger in ice and ate his postgame meal with only his right hand. Will Lasorda be the next Dodger on the disabled list? “I’ll never, never, never, go on the disabled list,” Lasorda shouted. . . . Catcher Orlando Mercado arrived from Albuquerque Tuesday night, and he wasn’t totally happy about it. Mercado said he was happy to be called up to the Dodgers, but also would have liked to remain in Triple-A for the Pacific Coast League championship series between Albuquerque and Calgary, which began Tuesday night. Said Mercado: “I didn’t really expect to be here because we were in the finals. I am happy to be here. I’ve been in baseball 10 years and I’ve never got a ring. I wanted to play on a championship team. But I’m here, and I’ve waited for the chance. Maybe I’ll play a little and they’ll find out what I can do.” Mercado, 25, hit .178 but had 78 RBIs in Albuquerque. . . . A White Sox scout was again watching the Dodgers Tuesday , presumably to evaluate Mike Marshall. . . . Tim Belcher makes his first major league start tonight against the Reds.