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Braves Make It Tough, but Still Lose to Dodgers

Times Staff Writer

In the wake of showdown series against the Houston Astros and Cincinnati Reds, and with Steve Sax and his ailing bat joining the injured Mike Marshall and Mike Scioscia on the bench, the Dodgers may have been in need of a breather Monday night.

They got the next best thing with the arrival of the Atlanta Braves, who boasted the National League’s highest earned-run average (4.20) and lowest team batting average (.244), not to mention baseball’s worst record of 49-92.

The result wasn’t unexpected, but neither was it the laugher it had first appeared to be.

Rolling to a 5-0 lead with four runs in the first inning and another in the second, the Dodgers held on for a 5-4 victory before a Dodger Stadium crowd of 24,578.

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“None of ‘em come easy,” Manager Tom Lasorda sighed later.

It was obviously closer than the Dodgers might have liked, but they continue to do what a championship caliber team must do against teams of the Braves caliber--win consistently.

Los Angeles has now won 12 of 16 games from Atlanta, the latest extending their National League West leads over the idle Houston Astros and Cincinnati Reds to 5 1/2 and 8 games, respectively.

Tim Leary emerged with his 17th win against 9 defeats, though he departed when the Braves scored four runs in the sixth.

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Ricky Horton and Alejandro Pena combined to shut out Atlanta over the final 3 innings, with Pena’s 10th save representing the 42nd for the rebuilt Dodger bullpen, which leads the league in that category.

The Dodgers also continued to feast on a force-fed rookie named Tom Glavine. The 22-year-old left-hander lasted only two innings and is now 6-16 overall and 0-5 with a 7.79 earned-run average against the Dodgers, who had six hits in those first two innings but only two more off Jim Acker, Jose Alvarez and Paul Assenmacher.

The latter pitched the final three innings and struck out seven.

Of the eight Dodger hits, Alfredo Griffin, Kirk Gibson and Jeff Hamilton each had two.

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Gibson is now at .298 with a clear shot at his first .300 season. Hamilton and Griffin are coming on at a propitious time.

Hamilton, the third baseman, has hit .298 over his last 168 at-bats to raise his season’s average to .256.

Griffin, the shortstop, has batted .471 during an 11-game hitting streak that has raised his average to .205.

“I can’t believe it,” he said, when informed he had climbed over the .200 mark.

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Lasorda cited the broken hand that sidelined Griffin from May 21 to July 25 and said: “We knew he was a lot better than his average. It was only a matter of time until he got his stroke. The key is that his hand is a lot stronger now. He’s been outstanding recently.”

With one out in the first, Griffin started the four-run inning with a single to left. Gibson, Mickey Hatcher, John Shelby and Hamilton followed with singles for a 3-0 lead that became 4-0 on an error by first baseman Gerald Perry.

Griffin walked with one out in the second, took third on a single by Gibson and scored on Hatcher’s fly to center.

That was the last hurrah for the Dodger offense, but it proved to be enough.

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Barely.

Leary breezed through five innings, allowing only three hits.

He then yielded five of the six that the Braves had in their four-run sixth, including a Dale Murphy single that produced the 1,000th RBI of his career.

An over the shoulder catch by Gibson of Perry’s slicing drive to deep left prevented additional damage in that inning, as did Horton’s relief work.

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In his fourth and best appearance for the Dodgers, he faced a one-out, bases-loaded crises and got Paul Runge to ground into a force play at the plate before retiring Rookie of the Year candidate Ron Gant on a fly to center.

Pena, continuing to fill a variety of roles, allowed only one hit over the final 2 innings to help keep Leary alive in his bid for 20 wins.

Leary said he has seldom felt better than he did over the first five innings, but lost his release point in the sixth and couldn’t find it as he hoped in vain for a double play.

The Dodgers have not had two 20- game winners in the same season since Bill Singer and Claude Osteen in 1969, and Leary can now join Orel Hershiser by winning three of his last four starts--if he gets four.

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“I thought I had only four more including tonight,” he said. “Then I realized that if I continue to pitch every fifth day I still have four more, with the last Oct. 2 (the last day of the regular season).

“There’s less pressure winning four out of five than four out of four, but all I’m trying to do is go out and win every start.”

The speculation is that the Dodger rotation has already been set up to let left-hander John Tudor open the playoff with the New York Mets, so that he would draw three starts if needed.

Hershiser would go in Game 2, and Leary in Game 3, pitching that last day of the regular season as a tuneup that may prove to be more than that--a bid, in fact, for 20.

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Dodger Notes

Mike Marshall was sidelined again, but his ailing leg didn’t draw as much attention as his newly shaved scalp did. Marshall did the cutting, with help from his wife, Mary. He said he was inspired in part by the clean scalps of Olympic swimmer Matt Biondi and New York Mets outfielder Darryl Strawberry. “I like my hair short and it was growing in funny from when I got a crew cut,” he said. “I guess when you’re not playing you get bored. I wonder how I’m going to look in a suit coat on travel day?” . . . Marshall’s leg? “It’s feeling better, but I don’t know when I’ll be back in the lineup,” he said. “Maybe it’ll be easier to run this way (sans hair).”

Catcher Mike Scioscia missed his fourth straight game because of a bursitis swelling on the back of his left heel. The condition will be alleviated only by complete rest over the winter, Scioscia said, but the current rest, combined with a specially designed baseball shoe, has eased the inflammation to the point that he doesn’t expect it to affect his performance “over the rest of the season.” . . . Said Manager Tom Lasorda: “He’s hurting and we’re trying to get him better. We’re hoping the rest will do it.”

Steve Sax, who had failed to start four other games but had appeared in all 142, drew a rest after going 10 for 69 in his last 17 games. “Tommy (Lasorda) said maybe it would be good for me and I said, ‘OK.’ I’m no genie. We’ll see,”

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