Dodger rookie Tim Belcher won his second game of the playoffs and Kirk Gibson hit his second straight game-winning homer as Los Angeles beat the New York Mets 7-4 in Game 5 today to move within one game of their first National League pennant since 1981.
The win gave the Dodgers a 3-2 lead in the Championship Series, but their pennant hopes, already hit by the suspension of relief pitcher Jay Howell, received another jolt when Gibson reinjured his left leg in the ninth inning while stealing second.
With two outs in the inning, Gibson beat out an infield hit, then reinjured his hamstring stealing second and left the game. Dodger Manager Tommy Lasorda said that Gibson received an injection and that doctors will not know until Tuesday if the slugging outfielder will be ready to play in Game 6.
Jose Gonzalez ran for Gibson and scored the Dodgers’ seventh run when Mike Marshall tripled to right-center.
In all five games, the Dodgers have scored first, this time breaking through for three runs off loser Sid Fernandez in the fourth inning on Rick Dempsey’s two-run double and an RBI double by Alfredo Griffin.
Three-Run Shot in 5th
Gibson, who ended a 1-for-16 slump with his game-winning homer in Game 4, hit a three-run shot in the fifth inning for his second homer in a little over 12 hours. Gibson’s homer, a line shot into the first deck in right field, on Fernandez’ final pitch, gave the Dodgers a 6-0 lead.
New York came back on Lenny Dykstra’s three-run homer in the bottom of the inning, and scored again in the eighth on a double by Dykstra and a single by rookie Gregg Jefferies.
The teams now fly to Los Angeles, where the Dodgers can wrap up the best-of-seven series Tuesday when Tim Leary opposes David Cone, the losing pitcher in Game 2.
Earlier today, Howell’s three-day suspension for using pine tar in his glove during Game 3 was shortened by a day after he met with National League President Bart Giamatti. Thus, the Dodger relief pitcher will be eligible to pitch Tuesday night.
In what amounted to plea bargaining, Giamatti reduced Howell’s sentence from three days to two “in view of (Howell’s) apology and in an attempt not to further penalize his teammates and fans during this crucial series.”
Had Giamatti stuck to his original ruling, Howell would not have been eligible to pitch until a possible Game 7 on Wednesday. The reduction of the punishment was the first in the two-season tenure of Giamatti, who has been chosen to succeed Peter Ueberroth as baseball commissioner next spring.
A formal appeal, which would have suspended Howell’s suspension until a document was filed and Giamatti made the ruling, was not filed. Instead, what was termed an informal meeting was held.
“Just because one imposes a penalty, I don’t necessarily believe it’s engraved in stone,” Giamatti said. “I listened to him and decided . . . there were grounds for amelioration without feeling I was totally conceding the violation.”
Howell, who was accompanied at the hearing by Gene Orza, counsel for the Major League Ballplayers Assn., said he was sorry that he had put the pine tar on his glove. But he also reiterated his quarrel not only with the rule but with the punishment.
“Although I’m not totally satisfied with the result of today’s decision, I do understand the basis for Mr. Giamatti’s decision,” Howell said. “Mr. Giamatti also understands that I am not a cheater and, with that conclusion, I am totally satisfied.”
Howell has maintained that he was using the pine tar solely to get a better grip on the ball during Saturday’s game, played in cold, rainy weather.