Baseball Playoffs : Dravecky Gets a Line on the Cardinals, 5-0

Times Staff Writer

Being a bottom-line kind of guy, Dave Dravecky knew exactly what was expected of him Wednesday.

Nothing less than a dominating pitching effort was needed if the San Francisco Giants were to slow down and beat the St. Louis Cardinals in Game 2 of the National League playoffs.

Knowing that the Giants did not want to leave town losers in each of the first two games of the best-of-seven series, Dravecky responded with a two-hit shutout as the Giants beat the Cardinals, 5-0, before 55,331 fans at Busch Stadium.


Dravecky’s masterful pitching was supported by Will Clark’s two-run homer, a bases-empty shot by Jeffrey Leonard and, surprisingly, a two-run fielding error by Ozzie Smith, the Cardinals’ shortstop whiz.

“The bottom line was to win,” said Dravecky, who pitched his sixth complete game for the Giants since coming to them in the July 4 trade with San Diego. “But it was also important not to get away from my game plan. You have to have control and keep balance. Transfer that intensity into control. That’s the bottom line.”

The bottom line , obviously, is one of Dravecky’s favorite expressions. More basic to the Giants, however, was Dravecky’s pitching line.

Dravecky’s two-hitter tied an NL championship series record for fewest hits allowed in a nine-inning game. Cincinnati’s Ross Grimsley did it in 1972, as did New York’s Jon Matlack in 1973.

Dravecky allowed a two-out single to Jim Lindeman in the first inning and a single to Tommy Herr in the fourth, neither of which resulted in a serious Cardinal threat. Even though Dravecky yielded four leadoff walks, he avoided even potential damage with good pitching and strong defensive support.

Twice, leadoff Cardinal walks were nullified by double plays. Another time, Tony Pena was caught stealing after a walk. And Dravecky pitched out of his only real jam in the fourth, getting three routine fly balls after walking Smith and giving up Herr’s single.


Despite Tuesday night’s five-run outburst in Game 1, the Cardinals have not shown the offensive force they possess. They have tried to steal only twice and were thrown out both times. They played without injured slugger Jack Clark again Wednesday, and stranded those two runners in the fourth when Clark’s spot in the order came around.

“The bottom line is being able to utilize people that you work with,” Dravecky said. “We had a great defense getting those double plays. For the most part, all I had to do is throw strikes, because I had good movement.

“It’s obvious that if you keep their speed off the bases, that’s a major part of it. The bottom line with me is to throw through the hitters, let them hit the ball. Not try to throw the ball by them.”

Left-hander John Tudor, who gave up 3 earned runs and 10 hits in 8 innings, could not throw the ball past either Leonard or Clark and suffered the consequences.

The deep power alleys in Busch Stadium were supposed to pose problems for the Giants’ long-ball hitters, but Leonard has hit almost identical homers in the first two playoff games, shots over the 414-foot sign in center field to lead off the fourth inning each game.

Leonard’s shot Wednesday, followed by his customary home run swagger around the bases, gave the Giants a 3-0 lead, which turned out to be more than enough with Dravecky’s solid pitching.


However, an interrupted homer trot almost cost San Francisco an early 2-0 lead in the second inning. With Candy Maldonado on first, Clark knocked Tudor’s inside fastball over the right-field fence. As he rounded first base on a considerably faster trot than Leonard’s, Clark suddenly stopped when he saw that Maldonado was retreating.

“I looked up and Candy was coming back at me,” Clark said. “I said, ‘Whoa, whoa, whoa,’ and he did a U-turn and we came home together. Well, almost together. Thank goodness I didn’t pass him.”

But the bottom line, to borrow Dravecky’s phrase, was that the runs counted and the Giants were staked to an early lead.

After getting the two home runs, the Giants spent most of the afternoon wasting scoring chances.

In the fifth, Jose Uribe led off with a bloop double that fell between Smith and center fielder Willie McGee. Uribe advanced to third on Dravecky’s bunt single, which Tudor and third baseman Terry Pendleton let roll.

But that rally was thwarted when Tudor sensed a squeeze play and Robby Thompson could not make contact with Uribe running from third. Uribe was tagged out and Dravecky was eventually left stranded at second when Thompson struck out and Kevin Mitchell lined to third.


The Giants also had the bases loaded with two out in the sixth, but Uribe grounded into a force play.

Finally, the Giants pushed across two late runs. With the bases loaded and two out, Uribe hit a fast-moving ground ball to the right of Smith.

For most shortstops, that would be a difficult play but it usually is routine for Smith. He reached the ball in time, skidding on his left knee, his right leg outstretched. But then the ball bounced between his legs and into left field, making it a commanding 5-0 Giant lead.

Dravecky called his performance, quite simply, the best of his life. The first thing Giant Manager Roger Craig said about Dravecky afterward was that he is a battler.

“He goes out and battles you from the first pitch,” Craig said. “They say Dave’s a Christian and that Christian athletes don’t have guts. Well, he battled them like a lion today.”

And won a game the Giants said they had to win heading into three games over the weekend at Candlestick Park.


Said Dravecky:

“The really important thing was not to put too much emphasis than there ought to be on the game. In an atmosphere like the playoffs and (World) Series, you need to put things in control. I visualized, pitch-by-pitch, what would happen.”

It is something that has worked several times before for Dravecky, one of 10 Giants with postseason experience. He made three relief appearances with the Padres in the 1984 playoffs and pitched six scoreless inning. Then, in the World Series that season, he pitched another 4 scoreless innings.

“It’s the bottom line,” Dravecky said. “Most pitchers in the league are on the same level. The only way to get the jump is to maintain a level attitude in your approach. It’s 95% in your head. If I can create tunnel vision, I can throw strikes consistently.”

Said Cardinal Manager Whitey Herzog: “Dravecky just pitched a great game. He was in control all the way. But I’m not worried. Naturally, I would have liked to leave here up, 2-0. Now, we have to win a game or two out there to make sure we come back.”

That, as Dravecky himself might say, is the bottom line.