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Gooden Keeps Dodgers in Tow : Baseball: Injured Met pitcher goes five innings in 12-3 victory, improving his lifetime record against L.A. to 11-1.

TIMES STAFF WRITER

Was it the players’ meeting called by Howard Johnson before the game to discuss his team’s uninspired play?

Did the Mets gain inspiration from seeing Dwight Gooden take his turn with a painful foot injury?

Or did the Mets finally meet their match when they came to Dodger Stadium Monday night?

Whatever the answer, the Mets, who limped into town with a 1-5 record on their West Coast swing, unloaded on the Dodgers, 12-3, sending many in the crowd of 39,876 home early.

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The Mets got 14 hits--including three home runs--and took a 9-0 lead with an eight-run third ining highlighted by Kevin McReynolds’ grand slam.

“That was our club. That’s what we’re capable of,” Johnson said.

Gooden, now 11-1 lifetime against the Dodgers, started despite an injury to the middle toe on his left foot--possibly a hairline fracture--suffered in a clubhouse mishap in San Diego Saturday. Gooden’s toe was injured when teammate Mackey Sasser opened a folding chair and inadvertently put a leg of it on Gooden’s foot.

Before the game, Gooden said, “If I don’t step forward, and say I can’t pitch, no one else will. . . . That’s why I told them I’ll warm up and see what happens. I know there’s gonna be a little bit of pain. I can accept that. Just so I don’t interfere with my mechanics.”

The Dodgers scored in the third but stranded two runners. They got another run in the fifth without a hit, using two walks, a balk and Eddie Murray’s sacrifice fly. The inning ended on Hubie Brooks’ fly ball to the center-field track.

With the comfortable lead, Gooden (3-3) nursed his uncomfortable foot through five innings, walking four and striking out three.

“Tonight I didn’t have great stuff, but the team scored 10 runs (for him),” Gooden said.

“At the start I was favoring (the foot). The second inning, I put pressure on it. It didn’t feel that good. With the lead we had I figured five innings would be good.”

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Slumping Darryl Strawberry gave Gooden a quick 1-0 lead, opening the second inning against flu-stricken starter Mike Morgan with a home run that reached the second tier of seats in the right-field pavilion.

The eight-run burst came the next inning, when New York sent 11 men to the plate. After McReynolds’ fifth career grand slam, Daryl Boston hit a two-run homer two batters later, chasing Morgan (5-3).

The Mets added another run in the fourth and two more in the seventh on Tom O’Malley’s pinch-double.

Jeff Musselman and Wally Whitehurst closed for the Mets, with Whitehurst getting his second save. The Dodgers’ only run against them was an eighth inning homer by Jose Gonzalez.

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Said Johnson, who had two hits: “Some of these teams are going to pay, because we’re going to start playing well.”

Dodger Notes

Outfielder Kirk Gibson is thought to be nearly ready for a minor league rehabilitation stint, possibly while the Dodgers are on a trip that starts Wednesday. . . . Tonight’s scheduled Dodger starter, John Wetteland, stayed home Monday night because of flu. . . . Kal Daniels went into Monday’s game with a .344 average in night games. Daniels has accounted for all seven of his home runs and 20 of his 23 runs batted in under the lights. . . . After sitting out Sunday, Juan Samuel started at second base. He had been hitless in his last 18 at-bats and was carrying a .190 average. However, Samuel--who played for the Mets last year--is a lifetime .280 hitter against them and got two hits. . . . Dodger pinch-hitters came out of the weekend batting 12 for 58, a .207 average, with nine RBIs.

Former Dodger Mike Marshall was booed when he made his first Dodger Stadium appearance with the Mets Monday. . . . After the players-only meeting called by infielder the Mets’ Howard Johnson before Monday night’s game, he said: “What was said won’t hurt.” Pitcher Ron Darling said: “I don’t think there was any air to be cleared.” Reserve Tim Teufel, speaking for the bench players: “It’s been a dead bench. We’re having a tough road trip--there hasn’t been much reason to be excited. It’s hard to sit on the bench for 10 days when you’re losing. Some starters don’t understand that. We told them, ‘Give us a reason to get excited, we’ll be behind you.’ ”

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Met Manager Dave Johnson said: “Certainly we’re a better team than we’ve shown,” The slow start again--the Mets were batting .229 going into the game--has Johnson on the hot seat in New York. His reaction: “I’ve set a longevity record here, but no matter what I’ve done I always seem to have one foot on the floor and another on a banana peel.”


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