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Valenzuela Better, but Dodgers Lose, 3-2

Times Staff Writer

While the investigation into the gambling activities of Cincinnati Red Manager Pete Rose drones on, the jury also remains out in the case of Fernando Valenzuela.

Rose’s Reds rallied to win a 3-2 verdict from the Dodgers after Valenzuela pitched five shutout innings Monday night.

A statistical improvement on the eight runs and 14 hits he had allowed in the 11 1/3 innings of his first two starts? Definitely.

An indication of progress in the rehabilitation of his left shoulder? Sort of.

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Valenzuela required 79 pitches, 33 of which were outside the strike zone. He allowed only three hits but walked four, one intentionally. He changed speeds, but seldom lit up the speed gun.

The Reds stranded six in the five innings, and Rose said:

“I was surprised we didn’t get any runs off him. I don’t think he had much velocity at all. The guys were saying he didn’t have much pop on his fastball, but that just shows how good a pitcher he is. You’ve got to give him credit.”

Looking for his first win since June 14, Valenzuela left with a 2-0 lead and a stiffening shoulder, the result of a cool night and long innings.

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Herm Winningham and Barry Larkin hit back-to-back homers off Alejandro Pena in the seventh to tie it, and the Reds won their third in a row and eighth in 12 games with an unearned run off Jay Howell in the 10th.

Larkin opened that final inning with a single. Chris Sabo flied out as Rose disdained the sacrifice. Howell then picked Larkin off first, but in the ensuing rundown, shortstop Alfredo Griffin dropped the ball as he tagged Larkin diving back to first.

A walk and infield single by Eric Davis loaded the bases, and Todd Benzinger then hit a fly to left to score Larkin, who should have been sitting in the dugout.

It was a gift run in a game that saw the sputtering Dodgers score only on gifts. Jose Rijo and three relievers limited the Dodgers to eight hits and solo runs in the fourth and fifth innings, both unearned.

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A pair of errors by Larkin led to the two runs. The Dodgers, averaging 3.2 per game, put their leadoff man on in both the eighth and ninth innings but couldn’t score.

John Franco retired them in order in the 10th and now has five saves in five appearances, having retired 26 of the 28 batters he has faced this year.

A crowd of 32,489 saw Kirk Gibson strike out three times, typifying the Dodgers’ futility.

Mercifully, perhaps, Manager Tom Lasorda didn’t see it. He was ejected by plate umpire Gary Darling after the first inning when he strongly protested the ejection of catcher Mike Scioscia, who got the boot for arguing a called third strike.

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Scioscia had some choice over-the-shoulder remarks for Darling as he walked toward the dugout, resulting in his ouster, according to the umpire. Then, when Lasorda came out to protest and was similarly ejected, Scioscia sprinted from the dugout and had to be physically restrained from going after Darling by coach Joe Amalfitano.

Of Scioscia’s ejection, Lasorda said:

“It was uncalled for. Mike was putting on his shin guards and he said, ‘Open your eyes,’ and he (Darling) ran him for that.

“People come to see these guys play, not to see them thrown out of the game. If the guy (Scioscia) was coming after him . . . but he was in the dugout. The umpire said Mike showed him up, but he was in the dugout. How could he show him up?

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“If you want to throw me out, fine. People don’t come to see umpires or managers. They come to see the players play.”

They once came to see Valenzuela, but that was in the days of Fernandomania.

Now, the tenacity is the same, but how much more is uncertain.

The Reds had at least one runner in every inning except the fourth and two in each of the first three.

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Progress?

“Sure,” pitching coach Ron Perranoski said. “I just wish he could have gotten the win. It would have helped his outlook.”

Valenzuela said his outlook is fine, that his shoulder continues to improve, that he knows he has to be patient.

Apparently, the Dodgers will continue to be patient as well.

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Asked if he could place Valenzuela on a scale of 1 to 10, Perranoski shook his head and said:

“The way I have to base it is that he’s going out there every fifth day with no pain, building his arm up, throwing all his pitches. Every time he goes out there we’re looking at progress.

“He wasn’t as sharp tonight as he was in Atlanta (in his first start), but there are going to be games when he regresses some. He still threw very well tonight. He still had a good breaking ball.”

Said Rose, eager to forget his own problems: “All he needs is a little more velocity, though he didn’t need it tonight. I hope he comes around. He’s good for the league, good for baseball. We want to beat the Dodgers and we want to beat their best.”

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Dodger Notes

A 10-minute phone conversation with attorney Reuven Katz interrupted Pete Rose’s pregame conversations with about a dozen reporters, but Rose was upbeat and relaxed while again refusing to discuss specifics of the investigation into his gambling activities. “Why should I be worried?” he said. “I didn’t do anything. Only people who did something worry. I can walk across any bridge in America without jumping off.” . . . Three of Rose’s World Series rings--1975, ’76 and ’79--went on display Monday at the Cincinnati branch of the Kentucky State bank, of which he is a stockholder. Rose said one reason for the display was “to lay to rest” the “irresponsible” story that he had sold the ’75 ring to pay off gambling debts. “I’ve got more memorabilia than any player around,” he said. “Important memorabilia. It would take a couple hours just to film the memorabilia people say I’ve sold.”

John Shelby, with only three hits in his last 23 at-bats and more strikeouts (12) than hits (9) overall, drew a rest, with Kirk Gibson playing center and Mike Davis left. The only other time Gibson played center for the Dodgers was in a July 22 game against Pittsburgh last year. “John is struggling some,” Manager Tom Lasorda said of Shelby. “He played a lot in the spring and we just want him out for a day. He’ll be back in there tomorrow.”

The quick ejection of Mike Scioscia left Mickey Hatcher as the backup catcher to Rick Dempsey. Hatcher responded by parading through the dugout in the second inning wearing catcher’s gear and carrying a bat. . . . Orel Hershiser went through a normal workout and required no special treatment for the elbow twinge that prompted him to leave Sunday’s game with Houston. Hershiser is scheduled to face San Francisco Friday night. . . . Dodger Stadium flags were at half staff and the crowd was asked to observe a moment of silence in memory of former National League umpire Jocko Conlan, who died Sunday at 89.

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