Self-analysis by Dodger players was even less plentiful than their hit total in Friday night's 2-1 loss to the Philadelphia Phillies. The shrugs and silence just seemed to prove that the only thing worse than playing a game like they'd just played was talking about it.
"We beat ourselves, plain and simple," left fielder Kirk Gibson said. "There's nothing more to say. This game was self-explanatory. What's important is that we'll come back tomorrow and beat them."
The Dodgers are 19-12 after losing three straight games for the first time this season.
On a night when Dodger starter Tim Leary gave up only two runs through six innings and relievers Tim Crews and Brian Holton kept them close, Dodger hitters faltered for the third time in a row.
They managed only six hits, including Mike Marshall's seventh-inning home run, off Kevin Gross through eight-plus innings. They had three promising rallies go awry in various ways, including a ninth-inning threat that was averted by reliever Kent Tekulve, who earned his (as well as the Phillies') second save.
The Dodgers, still 1 1/2 games ahead of Houston in the National League West, stranded runners like cars on the shoulder of Interstate 5.
Their first aborted rally came in the third inning, when Mike Davis ran the count to 3 and 2, then struck out to end the inning with runners on second and third. In the eighth, Davis faced a similar situation and reacted the same way. This time, the Dodgers had runners on first and second with the count 3 and 2 on Davis but only one out.
Manager Tom Lasorda, trying to avoid a double-play situation, attempted a double steal. The first flaw in the strategy was that Davis again struck out; the second was that Franklin Stubbs got a poor jump from second and was easily thrown out by Phillie catcher Lance Parrish. "He (Davis) has got to make contact on that pitch," Lasorda lamented.
No one was more aware of that than Davis, who entered the game as the Dodgers' third-leading hitter with runners in scoring position at .421. Each time Friday night, though, Gross struck him out on change-ups.
"With runners running, you got to get it in play," Davis said. "At 3 and 2, with runners in scoring position, I wanted to be aggressive. I wanted the big hits. But he out-thought me, I guess. (Gross) stayed with that change-up, and it's one of the best I've seen."
By the ninth, Gross had tired and given the Dodgers one last chance to purge the memory of earlier failures. Gibson led off with a double to right field, prompting Phillie Manager Lee Elia to replace Gross with Tekulve, who had the club's only save in just two opportunities.
With Gibson on second and Pedro Guerrero and Marshall coming up, this figured to be the Dodgers' best scoring chance. But Guerrero grounded to shortstop, Marshall flied to center, and after a walk to Danny Heep, Mike Scioscia popped out to shortstop to end a frustrating night.
"We've got to get our bats going," Lasorda said. "We lost that 11-inning game in Pittsburgh (Wednesday) and scored one run all night. Then, we scored one run in nine (innings) tonight. You have to pitch shutouts to win that way."
At least, Leary came close.
Leary (2-3) yielded only a fourth-inning home run to Juan Samuel and another run in the fifth when Gross drove in Craig James with what proved to be the game-winner on a grounder that eluded Marshall's glove. Leary gave up 8 hits in 6 innings, including an infield single and 2 bloop singles.
But Dodger hitters would have been happy with hits of any kind. Gross, among the National League leaders in earned-run average at 1.80, allowed only six hits and also received help from his defense.
In the seventh, James made a diving catch of a sinking liner hit by Guerrero. Marshall, the next batter, then hit a home run to left, his fifth of the season. Had Guerrero reached base, the Dodgers would have tied it.
"We had our chances," Marshall said. They dropped a bunch (of hits) in, but that's not part of (why the Dodgers lost). We didn't get the big hit."
After being activated from the disabled list Thursday and going 0 for 4 in his first start, center fielder John Shelby (strained right abdominal muscle) did not play Friday night. Manager Tom Lasorda said he wants to bring Shelby along slowly, playing him against left-handed pitchers and Danny Heep against right-handed pitchers. But Lasorda said he did not consider it a platoon situation and that it will not last long. "As soon as we feel Shelby is ready to go every day, (he will)," Lasorda said. "But we want to give (Heep) a couple of starts." Heep was 0 for 3 Friday night.
Right-handed reliever Tim Crews, recalled from the Dodgers' triple-A club in Albuquerque, N.M., Friday, had been working mostly as a short reliever. But with Jesse Orosco, Jay Howell and Alejandro Pena filling those roles, Lasorda said Crews will be used strictly as a middle reliever. That is fine with Crews, who earned a save Thursday night in Albuquerque, then pitched the seventh and eighth innings Friday night without giving up a run. About being a middle reliever, Crews said: "I had an idea that that's what I'd do when I thought I was going to make the club (in the spring). I'm more excited getting called up this year than last year, because now I try to keep showing them I can do what I can do." Crews, voted the Dodgers' rookie of the year last season after earning 3 saves and posting a 2.48 earned-run average in 20 appearances, was disappointed when he was sent to Albuquerque to start the season. But he said it was an incentive to pitch well. Relief pitcher Brad Havens, given the option of pitching in Albuquerque or becoming a free agent, said Friday night that he still has not decided and probably will not do so until Sunday. Under terms of the collective bargaining agreement, Havens has three days to make a choice, since he has more than three years of major league experience. Havens will receive the balance of his $185,000 salary if he reports to Albuquerque. Fred Claire, the Dodgers' executive vice president, said he met with Havens again Friday. "It's not the money," said Havens, who worked out at Dodger Stadium Friday. "I think I can catch on with another big league team. The money doesn't matter to me." Havens, who had a 4.67 ERA, said he was surprised by the demotion but admitted that he had not pitched well. "I stood out like a sore thumb in the bullpen," Havens said.
Ken Howell, rehabilitating his right shoulder, came out of Thursday night's 81-pitch outing in Albuquerque with only "normal stiffness," according to trainer Bill Buhler. Howell said his next start will be for the club's single-A team in Bakersfield Tuesday against San Jose. "I'd like to get seven or eight innings in," Howell said. "That would be a better indication of where I am." . . . Catcher Mike Scioscia has changed anti-inflammatory medications in an attempt to lessen the pain in his left heel, according to Buhler. . . . The Dodgers honored former catcher Steve Yeager before Friday night's game. Among the speakers were Mayor Tom Bradley, former Dodger Vice President Al Campanis, Manager Tom Lasorda and former teammates Bill Russell and Joe Ferguson.