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Dodgers Clean Up With Grand Slam by Stubbs in 8th

Times Staff Writer

A greeting party of three Dodger baserunners awaited Franklin Stubbs at home plate at the culmination of a stirring eighth-inning comeback against the St. Louis Cardinals. They waited, and waited some more, as Stubbs slowly rounded the bases following a grand slam that turned a 3-3 tie into a 7-3 victory.

When he finally arrived at home, a jubilant Steve Sax grabbed Stubbs and lifted him in the air--heretofore believed to be a gravitational unlikelihood.

That is the way the Dodgers have been all season. They pick each other up even when it seems as though they will not be able to find a way. Wednesday night, they rallied from a 3-0 deficit with a seven-run eighth inning before a crowd of 37,210 at Dodger Stadium.

On a night that Fernando Valenzuela made his best start in recent memory--allowing only 3 runs and 4 hits in 7 innings--but had only a no-decision and high praise to show for it, the Dodgers showed why they have occupied first place in the National League West since late May. Only after Valenzuela’s departure did the Dodger offense emerge from its evening-long torpor. But when they emerged, they certainly shook things up as Stubbs’ belted the bases-loaded home run off Cardinal ace reliever Todd Worrell on a 3-and-2 pitch to break a 3-3 tie.

After stranding five runners in scoring position in the first seven innings against Cardinal starter Jose DeLeon, the Dodgers finally got to DeLeon and the St. Louis bullpen in the eighth. DeLeon was lifted with one out after yielding singles to Kirk Gibson and John Shelby.

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Left-handed reliver Ken Dayley was summoned to face left-handed hitting Mike Scioscia. But Manager Tom Lasorda went instead to right-handed pinch-hitter Rick Dempsey, who doubled down the left-field line to slash the Cardinals’ lead to 3-2.

Cardinal Manager Whitey Herzog then brought in Worrell, who leads the league with 16 saves. This time, though, the Dodgers pounded him.

Shortstop Dave Anderson brought home Dempsey with the tying run with a single up the middle. The hit came one pitch after Worrell nearly hit Anderson with an intimidating fastball, high and inside. Pinch-hitter Mickey Hatcher kept the rally going with an infield hit. Worrell then walked Steve Sax to load the bases for Stubbs, who had only a single in four previous at bats.

Stubbs battled Worrell to a full count--fouling off two pitches--before launching a shot deep into the right-field seats to give the Dodgers a 7-3 lead and a sweep of the series with St. Louis in an dizzying turnaround.

Stubbs, playing first base only because of Pedro Guerrero’s prolonged neck injury, has shown signs of power in past seasons. But Wednesday’s shot was his first career grand slam.

Another Dodger comeback was the least the Dodgers could do for Valenzuela, who pitched well enough to win under normal circumstances.

Through six innings, Valenzuela gave up only a second-inning home run to Tom Brunansky, the ball landing in the most shallow part of the left-field line. It remained 1-0, Cardinals, until the seventh when Valenzuela, perhaps tiring after throwing 90 pitches, gave up two runs on Tony Pena’s double.

In the bottom of the seventh, Mike Davis, hitting for Valenzuela, almost broke the Dodgers’ slumber, but Brunansky reached over the right-field fence to rob him of a home run.

Tim Crews then pitched a scoreless eighth, eventually getting the win. After the Dodgers’ eighth-inning rally, Alejandro Pena earned his seventh save by pitching an uneventful ninth.

A half inning after Valenzuela gave up Brunansky’s 13th home run of the season, it looked as if the Dodgers would erase that the Cardinals’ 1-0 lead.

Marshall led off with a ground-rule double to right field, followed by a walk to Shelby. With no outs, Lasorda ordered a hit-and-run on the first pitch, but Scioscia popped to short, making Marshall and Shelby scamper back to second and first. Jeff Hamilton then struck out and three pitches, and Anderson flied to right.

Another double to right, this one by Sax, began a Dodger rally in the third. But he was stranded when Stubbs flied to left and Gibson lined deep to right. Brunansky had to make an awkward running catch near the fence on Gibson’s liner.

Then, in the fourth, a one-out single by Shelby and a walk to Scioscia gave the Dodgers yet another scoring opportunity. But Hamilton, who was hitting .317 with runners in scoring position going into Wednesday’s game, failed again. This time, Hamilton grounded into an inning-ending double play.

The Dodgers’ best early chance to score came in the fifth. This opportunity began with two outs. Sax singled to left, stole second base and advanced to third when Stubbs bounced a hard-hit grounder off the chest of first baseman Mike Fitzgerald for a single.

That brought up Gibson, second to Marshall for the club lead in runs batted in. After working the count to 2-and-2, Gibson fouled off three straight pitches, the last of which was almost caught down the left-field line by a sprinting Vince Coleman. Finally, DeLeon struck out Gibson on a pitch that appeared to be well outside the strike zone.

DeLeon appeared on his way to escaping the sixth without any complications, when Scioscia and Hamilton slashed consecutive singles to give the Dodgers another scoring opportunity. This time, Anderson lined to center for the third out.

Dodger Notes

Reliever Jay Howell (fractured rib) apparently convinced Dodger decision-makers that he is fit enough to come off the disabled list. Howell threw in a simulated game against Dodger reserves for about 15 minutes before Wednesday’s game. He said he felt no pain in his chest and also that he pitched well. “It’s a go,” Howell said. “I’m ready to come off (the disabled list). I threw everything, and I felt great. The velocity was there and I had a lot of break on my breaking ball, maybe too much.” Trainer Bill Buhler said he would like to see how Howell feels today--a day off for the club--before activating him. . . . Buhler said that a term on the disabled list is a distinct possbility for Mickey Hatcher, bothered by a strained left groin. Hatcher also has lingering pain from a strained right groin earlier in the season. . . . Trainers reported that the swelling in Don Sutton’s strained right elbow is almost gone but that it is still tender. Sutton probably will not start lightly throwing until after the All-Star break.

Fred Claire, the Dodgers’ executive vice president, said Tim Belcher will return to the rotation once Jay Howell returns to full effectiveness. But Claire said he still believes Belcher, possessor of a 90-m.p.h. fastball, can be a quality short reliever. “If Jay is sound, we’ll be back to the way the bullpen originally was at the start of the season, which wasn’t too bad,” Claire said. . . . Actors Tom Berenger and Charlie Sheen worked out with the Dodgers before Wednesday’s game in preparation for an upcoming film with a baseball theme. Former Dodger Steve Yeager is serving as a technical adviser on the project. . . . The Dodgers are off today and open a three-game series Friday night against the Pittsburgh Pirates.


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