Belcher Turns Up Heat to Cool Off Pirate Surge, 4-1
Tim Belcher rediscovered the winning touch, and the Dodgers rediscovered the long ball Tuesday.
The combination resulted in a 4-1 Dodger victory over the Pittsburgh Pirates before 31,292 at Dodger Stadium.
Belcher, who hadn’t won since a 1-0 victory over San Diego on April 10, improved to 2-2 with a five-hitter and struck out nine in taming the Eastern Division’s first-place team.
Belcher’s 115-pitch performance snapped the Pirates’ six-game winning streak and halted the Dodgers’ two-game skid.
The Dodger offense hadn’t hit a home run since April 20 until Kal Daniels and Eddie Murray connected of Walt Terrell (0-1). Daniels also had a run-scoring double.
“We needed that one,” Dodger Manager Tom Lasorda said. “Belcher went nine--that’s something we needed. We need (home runs) too. This is the thing that has to be the trademark of this team. We have to hit some balls out of the ballpark. The two guys who did it are guys capable of doing that quite a few times.”
Pittsburgh came to town the National League’s hottest team, but Belcher cruised through the first six innings, allowing only one runner as far as second while striking out eight. His only problem came in the seventh, when Bobby Bonilla led off with a triple and scored on Sid Bream’s single.
“It’s no disgrace to lose to a guy like that,” Pittsburgh Manager Jim Leyland said. “He has become one of the power pitchers in the league.”
Belcher said the difference between this game and three previous starts was control of his fastball as well as improved breaking stuff.
“I located the fastball really well and I had my other three pitches working really well,” he said. “I had a good curveball, I even got a few strikeouts with it. If I can get those off-speed pitches and locate my fastball well, I’m gonna be in good shape.
“When you’ve got a team like Pittsburgh coming in really hot, it’s very gratifying personally to do so well against a good hitting lineup with left-handed power. And this was a great lift for our team.”
The Dodgers scored quickly when Lenny Harris led off with a single, stole second and scored on Daniels’ double down the right-field line.
In the third inning, Daniels sliced a drive the opposite way and it dropped over the low fence just inside the left-field line for the Dodgers’ first homer in 85 innings.
The Dodgers’ final runs scored in the fifth. Juan Samuel led off with a single and Murray hit a somewhat more majestic drive over the right-center-field fence for his fourth homer.
The loss was only Pittsburgh’s second on a 13-game trip that concludes tonight.
Orel Hershiser was released from Centinela Hospital Medical Center Tuesday morning and reported a good range of motion in his right shoulder, which was surgically repaired Friday. However, Hershiser reported some nausea from medication and stayed home.
Reliever Jim Gott threw a 78-pitch simulated game Tuesday and was ecstatic afterward. Gott, coming off shoulder and elbow surgery, will begin a minor league rehabilitation stint with two innings Friday for Class-A Bakersfield in San Bernardino. He has hopes of joining the Dodgers for their next home stand, which begins May 14. “I’m ready for a game,” he said. “The ball was poppin’. What felt most comfortable to me was the slider. That’s what I use to get people out. I’ve got a lot more aggression now. I’m a competitor. I want to be out there.”. . .
Pittsburgh came to town leading the East by 3 1/2 games. The last time the Pirates led by that margin was Aug. 3, 1980. . . . Excluding Monday’s makeup game against San Francisco, the Dodgers are in the midst of a 33-game stretch against the East. . . . Before Tuesday, the Dodgers’ only extra-base hit in 29 innings was a double by Alfredo Griffin on Saturday. . . . Willie Randolph, weakened by the flu, missed his fifth game in a row. Juan Samuel, who has struggled in the leadoff spot, was dropped to Randolph’s No. 2 spot, with Randolph’s replacement, Lenny Harris, batting leadoff.