It took 22 innings and six hours and the threat of an embarrassing record, but the end came easy.
At 1:09 a.m. (EDT) Thursday, Rick Dempsey swung at Dennis Martinez's hanging curveball. Seconds later, it went over the left-field fence.
Dempsey stared at it, shook his head, then began to slowly round the bases.
After getting 19 hits without a run--a major league record if they had been shut out--Dempsey's home run gave them a 1-0 victory over the Montreal Expos in front of 21,742 at Olympic Stadium.
The 22 innings matched the Dodgers' 5-4 loss on June 3 in Houston as the longest in Los Angeles franchise history.
But this one didn't have a run until Dempsey hit a 2-and-1 pitch for his second home run of the year. Of course, Dempsey was fresher than others. It was only his 14th inning, having replaced Mike Scioscia in the eighth.
"But heck, I was fresh," Dempsey said. "It isn't like I've been overworked this year or anything."
"I was ready too," Scioscia said later. "I strained my hamstring in the eighth, but it was healed by the 17th."
In the bottom of the 22nd, Dempsey accounted for the final out when he threw out Rex Hudler, who was attempting to steal second after reaching on a two-out single.
John Wetteland, who pitched the last six innings in relief, got the victory.
The impatient Dodgers did break one record by going 22 innings without drawing a walk, a total of 77 plate appearances. The record was held by the Pittsburgh Pirates, who didn't walk against the New York Giants in 21 innings on July 17, 1914.
The record they avoided is held by three teams who were shut out with 15 hits, the latest being the Boston Braves on Aug. 1, 1918. That was the record Dempsey was attempting to break.
"I went up there against Martinez thinking, just give me something I can hit out of the ballpark," Dempsey said. "I surprised myself. I got my pitch."
And the Dodgers had a win. Only five innings earlier, it appeared they would lose. Only a smart play by first baseman Eddie Murray saved them. With the bases loaded and one out in the 17th against reliever Tim Crews, Mike Fitzgerald flied to right fielder Mickey Hatcher. Upon the catch, Expo rookie Larry Walker raced home from third base, sliding around catcher Dempsey's tag for the apparent winning run.
But while Dempsey and Crews were protesting the call, and while the Expos were hugging in celebration, Murray charged in from first base and pointed toward third base umpire Bob Davidson. Murray then grabbed Dempsey and asked him to throw the ball to Lenny Harris at third base.
Dempsey did. Harris touched third. And Davidson signaled an out, meaning Walker had left third base too soon. The other umpires were summoned out of their dressing rooms, and the game continued.
"I always watch that guy at third base, and I knew what had happened," Murray said. "I just wanted to make sure the umpires didn't get off the field too soon. I wanted to keep them out there to get it right."
The Dodgers had their own troubles in the 19th. Hatcher reached third base with two out, and Expo shortstop Spike Owen threw Jose Gonzalez's grounder into the dirt at first base. But first baseman Andres Galarraga scooped it out to end the inning.
In the 18th, with Harris racing home, Walker appeared to catch Murray's line drive against the wall for the third out. A replay showed Walker actually caught the ball as it bounced off the wall. But by then it was too late to argue.
Tim Raines did make a leaping catch against the wall in the 16th inning on Hatcher's line drive, and then another leaping catch of an earlier Dempsey drive, resulting in an 11:30 p.m. standing ovation.
In all, it was frustrating, weird, but ultimately memorable, Dodger night.
Alfredo Griffin was hitless in nine at-bats. Harris had a career-high five hits. Jeff Hamilton did a little of both, going hitless in his first three at-bats, then three for three in the middle, then hitless in his last three at-bats.
"I thought it was great, I was going make up for all my time on the disabled list in one shot," said Mickey Hatcher, who went one for nine.
As the night grew longer, things got stranger.
In the 11th inning, the Expos' fuzzy orange mascot was removed from above the Dodgers' dugout by the umpires because he was wearing a nightgown and sleeping on a pillow.
In the 17th, sore-legged Mike Marshall was in the on-deck circle ready to pinch-hit but was replaced by Fernando Valenzuela, who then struck out.
In the 18th inning, Murray stopped play and started an argument because second base umpire Mark Hirschbeck was in his line of vision. In the 21st, Harris made a running, over-the-shoulder catch of Galarraga's line drive in left field--it was Harris' first official game in the outfield since high school.
"Now I can say I got two games under my belt," Harris said. "The only thing was, I was getting tired as heck just running out between the innings."
Expo pitcher Martinez made his first relief appearance in four years. Bryn Smith made his first relief appearance in six years. Dodger pitcher Alejandro Pena got his first base hit in more than two years.
And Dodger announcer Ross Porter set a personal record by calling all 22 innings of the game, solo, on KABC radio. Partners Vin Scully and Don Drysdale were away on other business.
After 102 innings spread over 12 days in four cities and two countries, the Dodgers didn't need these 22 extra innings. Yet they finish the trip 6-6.
John Tudor had his best workout since going on the disabled list July 7 with an arthritic shoulder. He threw off a pitching mound for 15 minutes Wednesday and drew good reviews. "He showed good arm strength, he could be ready to face some hitters before it's all over with," pitching coach Ron Perranoski said. Tudor recently said he would not retire as scheduled this winter if he though he could pitch another season. . . . Baseball's longest 1-0 game was in 1968 when the Houston Astros and New York Mets went 24 innings.