Dodgers Hang In, Defeat Astros’ Scott With Nicks and Cuts, 7-5
Mike Scott faced the Dodgers in the Astrodome Monday and, after three years of accusations, something was finally shown to be scuffed.
It was Mike Scott.
Setting aside for a moment their constant griping about Scott’s alleged scuffing of balls, the Dodgers cut, nicked, and sanded him for six runs in seven innings in defeating the Astros, 7-5, before 19,058.
And then they winked.
“If he scuffed it,” Dodger starter John Wetteland said, “he was scuffing it right out of the strike zone.”
“Oh, he was still scuffing the ball,” said Mike Scioscia, who asked the umpires to check three balls. “But there are a lot of different things that happen to a scuffed baseball.”
Whatever Scott was throwing, there were certainly some different things happening to it.
In the first inning, a pitch by Scott left the park. Scioscia hit a three-run homer to give the Dodgers a 4-0 lead.
In the seventh inning, a pitch by Scott rolled to the backstop. His wild pitch scored Dave Anderson from third to give the Dodgers a 6-5 lead after the Astros scored five runs in the fourth.
Scott had not lost to the Dodgers in the Astrodome since Aug. 13, 1986. Overall, the Dodgers had only defeated Scott nine times in 25 decisions.
“He wasn’t the usual Mike Scott out there,” Anderson said. “He got balls up. He made bad pitches at bad times. He wasn’t putting anybody away.”
Some Dodgers wondered if Scott had a sore arm. Others noticed him favoring his left leg, which was bothered by a hamstring pull at the All-Star break.
“I’m fine,” protested Scott, who lost for the third time in six starts. “You live with the forkball, you die with it.”
And the Astros are dying with him. This was their 11th loss in 14 games. On Aug. 21, they were 1 1/2 games behind the National League West-leading San Francisco Giants. Today, they are 6 1/2 back.
Scott also failed to become the league’s first 19-game winner, falling to 18-8 with a 3.15 earned-run average and losing ground in his final-month Cy Young duel with St. Louis’ Joe Magrane, who also has 18 victories.
Mike Morgan (8-11) won for the second time since the All-Star break with two scoreless innings at the right time. He finished his work in the sixth, and the Dodgers won it in the seventh.
Billy Bean, batting .143, started the inning with a single to left against Scott. Bean didn’t know he’d be playing against Scott until a couple of hours before the game.
“I couldn’t look at it like, ‘Oh great, I finally get a chance to play and it’s against this guy? ' " Bean said. “The way I’ve been going, I’ll take an at-bat against anybody.”
So would Anderson. He was hitting .213 when, after failing twice to bunt Bean to second base, he chopped a ball up the middle that advanced Bean, who was stealing, to third base.
“That’s what you call taking something bad and coming out smelling like a rose,” Anderson said.
The prettiest Dodger sight came next, when Alfredo Griffin laid down a surprise bunt to Scott’s left. The sore-legged Scott fell as he reached the ball, with Bean scoring the tying run and Anderson moving to second.
“That’s a good play,” said Griffin, who had warned Bean to be prepared. “I like that play.”
Anderson moved to third on Lenny Harris’ double play grounder before scoring the game-winner on a 1-and-1 inside forkball to Eddie Murray that bounced underneath catcher Craig Biggio.
“Sometimes you hold onto the forkball too long and you bounce it,” Scott explained. “That one was really bad.”
After Jay Howell’s two shutout innings gave him his 26th save, the only thing needed from the Dodgers was an explanation of Wetteland’s performance.
He had breezed through three hitless innings, striking out five, with only one ball leaving the infield. When he entered the fourth, he had struck out 15 in his last 10 innings.
Then he gave up three consecutive singles, a 450-foot homer by Glenn Wilson and a homer by Ken Caminiti. Thanks to a new slow curve that proved too slow, Wetteland gave up as many homers in a three-batter stretch as he had yielded in his previous 81 innings.
“I threw the slow curve for strikes too often,” Wetteland said. “It blew up in my face.”
At least he was rewarded with one of the more stunning sights this Dodger season, as Wilson became only the second player to reach the newly constructed Astrodome second deck this season.
“He hit the stuff out of it,” Wetteland said. “It was beautiful.”
John Tudor reported that his left shoulder felt fine after Sunday’s three scoreless innings, his first work since July 7. . . . Mike Davis shagged fly balls during batting practice Monday and said he would probably ask the Dodgers to activate him in a pinch-hitting role this week. Davis hasn’t played since July 6, having undergone arthroscopic surgery on both knees July 7. . . . Kal Daniels, recovering from Aug. 11 knee surgery, shagged fly balls but said he is far from full speed.
Willie Randolph was rested Monday, missing only his 11th game this year. He is healthy, but this season against Mike Scott he is 0 for 14. . . . On Thursday, three days after facing Scott, the Dodgers must face another Cy Young hopeful, Cincinnati’s Tom Browning. Browning was 6-0 in August with a 1.70 ERA. In his last six starts, he has pitched five complete games. . . . Jeff Hamilton’s eighth-inning double gave him a career-high 30 this season. . . . Eddie Murray made two spectacular plays at first base Monday, pouncing on two grounders down the line and turning possible doubles into outs.
Murray has not made an error since May 30, in Montreal, a span of 86 games, even though during that span he played third base twice. He has committed six errors in 137 games. “I’ve done better,” said Murray of his defense, which earned him three consecutive Gold Gloves with Baltimore from 1982-84. . . . Mickey Hatcher, one of six potential Dodger free agents this winter, said his agent, Willie Sanchez, has held discussions with Fred Claire, Dodger vice president, and believes an agreement can be reached.