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Hershiser Gets 18th Win, 4-2 : Dodgers Trade for White Sox’s Horton to Bolster Bullpen

Times Staff Writer

The Dodgers have been playing well lately, and they have increased their lead over their National League West challengers behind excellent pitching. Nevertheless, they felt compelled Tuesday to make another trade for a pitcher who they hope will help them stay successful into October.

So, after Orel Hershiser notched his 18th victory with a 4-2 win over the Montreal Expos, the Dodgers announced that they had acquired left-handed middle reliever Ricky Horton from the Chicago White Sox. Horton fills what Dodger officials believe was the club’s final pitching need.

The player the Dodgers sent to Chicago was not named Tuesday night, because he first must clear waivers. But one source said the White Sox will receive pitcher Shawn Hillegas, 23, who was in the Dodgers’ rotation earlier in the season before being returned to triple-A Albuquerque.

To make room for Horton on the Dodgers’ prospective playoff roster, which must be turned in to the league office Thursday, right-handed pitcher Tim Crews will be deleted from the roster. However, Crews will continue to pitch during the regular season for the Dodgers once the roster expands to 40 players Thursday.

Pitching has carried the Dodgers, who lead the second-place Houston Astros by 6 1/2 games. With the addition of a long-sought left-handed reliever, the Dodger staff appears to have been strengthened for an anticipated playoff meeting with the New York Mets, who are laden with left-handed hitters.

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Since Brad Havens’ departure in May, the Dodger bullpen has thrived, even though Jesse Orosco was the only left-handed pitcher. With the acquisition of Horton, Manager Tom Lasorda said Orosco will return to a late-inning relief role, and Horton will serve as a set-up man for Orosco and Jay Howell.

Horton, 29, was traded from the St. Louis Cardinals to the White Sox at the start of the season. He has a 6-10 record with a 4.86 earned-run average but has been successful lately, not allowing an earned run in his last 12 relief innings.

Horton, who earns $532,500, will join the Dodgers here tonight. He told Chicago writers after Tuesday night’s White Sox game: “I’m excited that I get a chance to go over to a place where the team’s in first place.”

Horton pitched briefly in relief in the 1985 and 1987 World Series as a member of the Cardinals.

“That’s something we knew we were in need of,” Lasorda said. “I like (Horton). He’s a good set-up man. I don’t know how long we’ve been looking (at Horton), but I do know we’ve needed one. Orosco’s got to be a late-inning pitcher. He can’t pitch in the fifth or sixth inning.

“We’ve been fortunate that we’ve been doing it without another lefty, because Timmy (Crews) and Brian Holton have done a hell of a job.”

No help from any reliever was needed Tuesday night, as Hershiser logged his team-high 10th complete game and, as a bonus, drove in two runs with a third-inning double off hard-luck loser Brian Holman (2-6).

The victory improved Hershiser’s record to 18-8 and, with six starts probably remaining, he has a good chance to win 20 games for the first time in his career.

“I’ll be very satisfied if I get 20,” said Hershiser, who reduced his ERA to 2.84. “But I’m not going to stop there and say, ‘See you in the playoffs.’ I’ve got a shot to win 24 (games), and it’ll help the team if I do.”

The Dodgers, who have won 5 in a row and 12 of their last 15, have totaled only 14 hits in the last three games.

Tuesday night, Hershiser was given a 3-0 lead in the third. Alfredo Griffin, whose home run made him a hero in Monday night’s game, singled off second baseman Tom Foley’s chest to score Franklin Stubbs from third for the Dodgers’ first run. Then Hershiser sliced a double down the right-field line to score John Shelby and Griffin.

Griffin, who raised his average to .173 after going 2 for 3, led off the fifth inning with a double to right field. After Hershiser’s sacrifice bunt advanced him to third, Griffin scored on Steve Sax’s groundout.

Hershiser’s bid for his fourth shutout ended in the fifth, when Tim Raines hit a run-scoring double to left field and Dave Martinez singled home Raines, cutting the Dodger lead to 4-2.

But the Expos did not threaten after that, and the only suspense for the players occurred after the game, when Crews was summoned to Lasorda’s office.

Crews, who has a 3-0 record with a 3.60 ERA in 35 appearances, did not take the news well.

“I think it’s a mistake to take me off,” Crews said of the playoff-roster decision. “For what I’ve given them this season, in every situation, I feel cheated. But I guess they feel they are doing what’s best for the organization.

“As far as I know, I’m part of (the Dodgers’) future. But I was told (by Lasorda) that they had to make this move to beat the Mets. Of course, it’s a business. But after what I’ve given them, it’s hard. This gives me second thoughts about the Dodgers. If I pitched the way I have left-handed, there’s no way they’d make this trade.”

But Crews is not left-handed, so Executive Vice President Fred Claire said he thought it was essential to acquire another left-hander. The Dodgers scouted Horton as early as June, and special assignment scout Phil Regan has been in Chicago since Sunday. Claire said he and Larry Himes, the White Sox general manager, had been talking over the weekend and reached an agreement Tuesday afternoon.

“I think the addition of Ricky Horton is extremely important,” Claire said. “It gives our staff a good balance. There are times when we need a left-handed pitcher in relief during the middle innings, whether it’s (against) Will Clark or (Darryl) Strawberry or Keith Hernandez. Ricky’s had success against left-handers and in the National League.”

Hershiser said he had mixed emotions about the trade.

“Baseball-wise, it’s probably an outstanding move for the team,” Hershiser said. “For a guy like Tim, who’s pitched well and then gets sent down one day before the playoff roster comes out, it’s tough. It’s the hard facts of baseball, but also hard to take. He’ll get a full (playoff) share. I’ll fight and scratch and not let any player leave the room until they vote him one.”

Speaking strictly as a pitcher, though, Hershiser said another left-handed starter will be welcomed.

“It gives you the advantage of turning their lineup around when you bring in the left-handed reliever,” he said. “Then, when they bring up right-handed pinch-hitters, you bring in your right-handed stopper.

“If we go against the Mets, Hernandez and Strawberry are the keys to their lineup. Now, this gives us three lefties in the bullpen--Orosco, Horton, and there’s nothing in stone saying (John) Tudor can’t pitch to a batter in relief, if we need him.”

Dodger Notes

In a move related to the acquisition of pitcher Ricky Horton, the Dodgers have promoted outfielder Jose Gonzalez from Albuquerque and dropped infielder Mike Sharperson from the roster, meaning that Gonzalez will be included on the playoff roster and Sharperson will not. Sharperson will be reactivated Thursday. The Dodgers apparently made the move because of Gonzalez’s success as a pinch-runner and his defensive skills. . . . The Dodgers will recall five other players from Albuquerque Thursday, when the roster expands to 40 players. They are pitchers Ken Howell and William Brennan, outfielders Mike Devereaux and Chris Gwynn and catcher Gilberto Reyes. . . . Dan Opperman, the Dodgers’ top pick in the 1987 draft, underwent a second operation on his right elbow Tuesday at Centinela Hospital Medical Center in Inglewood. Opperman hurt his elbow before last season’s draft and later had reconstructive surgery similar to that of Tommy John. Opperman had been pitching this season for the Dodgers’ rookie team at Great Falls, Mont.


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