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Dodgers Dig Hole Deeper

TIMES STAFF WRITER

Fernando Valenzuela threw three consecutive pitches at Andy Van Slyke’s head. A man charged the mound. Two Dodger relievers were beaten up.

Another brawl between those bosom buddies, the Dodgers and the Pittsburgh Pirates?

No, it was just the Dodgers beating themselves again in a 9-5 loss to Pittsburgh Tuesday night before 10,252 at Three Rivers Stadium.

Those hoping for another round of pushing and shoving, as promised by both teams after Monday’s incidents here, were disappointed. The Dodgers obviously were not looking for a fight.

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Valenzuela, hit for six runs in 4 1/3 innings, was throwing at Van Slyke’s head because he just couldn’t get it over the plate. He walked six, the most of any Dodger pitcher in one game this season.

“Van Slyke knows me, he knows I don’t do that kind of thing,” Valenzuela said of their fifth-inning encounter, which resulted in a stream of boos from the fans but just a shrug from Van Slyke. “Today, I have no idea what I was doing.”

The man charging the mound was pitching coach Ron Perranoski, who removed Valenzuela from the game with the Dodgers trailing, 6-0.

The beaten relievers, Mike Maddux and Pat Perry, were bruised only in the box score. With them on the mound, the Pirates’ six runs became nine runs. That was unfortunate for the Dodgers, because in the meantime they pulled off a five-run seventh inning that should have put them back in the game.

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After Valenzuela and a brief appearance by Jim Gott, Maddux gave up a run on two hits in the sixth inning to make it 7-0. The Dodgers closed the gap to 7-5. Then Perry gave up two more runs to seal it for the Pirates, who lead the National League East by three games. The Dodgers have followed their five-game win streak with two consecutive losses here, and have fallen 8 1/2 games behind the first-place Cincinnati Reds.

“In those situations, we have to hold them,” Dodger Manger Tom Lasorda said, referring to his middle relievers. “We still had a couple of at-bats to catch them.”

Perry, who gave up a run in the seventh and eighth innings, was the chief offender for a second consecutive game. He allowed a run-scoring double by Don Slaught in the seventh after a wild pitch, and a run-scoring fly ball by Gary Redus in the eighth after Perry’s wild throw on a pickoff play at second base.

In five appearances during his first week on the active roster after last winter’s shoulder surgery, Perry has an 9.00 earned-run average with two wild pitches in five innings. That’s one more wild pitch than Ramon Martinez has thrown in 58 innings.

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Is this another case of a rehabilitating Dodger pitcher who says a heavy workload has been heaped upon him too quickly? Well, sort of.

“There is a little soreness in my shoulder,” Perry said. “I have been tested as much as anyone in the last week. . . . I’ve pitched five of eight days right off the bat. . . . I have been tested a lot, but that’s fine, I want to keep pitching.”

Valenzuela, who fell to 4-4 while his ERA rose to 4.09, offered different reasons for his failings.

“I’m throwing, not pitching,” Valenzuela said. “I just go to the mound and throw the ball, I have no idea what is happening. I have to think out there. I don’t think, I’m in trouble.”

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While starters Mike Morgan, Tim Belcher and Martinez have been consistently decent, and starter John Wetteland has been consistently poor, Valenzuela remains the staff puzzle. He has won consecutive starts only once this season, alternating tough performances with games like Tuesday’s.

The big hits against him were a two-run double by Van Slyke in the second inning, and a two-run single by former Dodger R.J. Reynolds in the fifth inning.

But Valenzuela was nearly taken off the hook in the seventh, when Pirate starter Bob Patterson, with a 5.58 ERA in 59 career games, finally tired. The Dodgers managed six hits and batted through the order in that inning for the seventh time this season. The big hits were a two-run pinch double by Mickey Hatcher, and run-scoring pinch-single by Lenny Harris. It was Harris’ first pinch-hit in nine pinch at-bats this season.

The inning ended when Kal Daniels, one of the best selective hitters in the league, watched three straight strikes on curveballs from reliever Scott Ruskin, the final strike being far enough outside the plate to cause Daniels to momentarily argue with home plate umpire Steve Rippley.

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Dodger Notes

Kirk Gibson increased his playing time in center field to seven innings Tuesday for triple-A Albuquerque while showing that his legs are in shape enough to steal third base. In seven innings against Edmonton in his fourth rehabilitation game, he went one for three with an RBI and his first steal. He is still adjusting to center field, as he made a three-base error. “He is giving it a good test, and he is feeling good about it,” said Pat Screnar, Dodger therapist. “He was stiff and sore at first, but that has subsided.” Gibson’s return to the Dodgers’ active roster could be as soon as a week. . . . The Dodgers and Pirates were given official warnings before Tuesday’s game, meaning automatic ejections with the first perceived brushback pitch. There were no such pitches. . . . John Wetteland will be given another chance Friday, as he has been told he will start against the Cincinnati Reds. . . . Third baseman Jeff Hamilton said he could be throwing a baseball within a week, despite continued shoulder pain because of tendinitis. . . . Before Tuesday’s game, the Pirates were still mad at the Dodgers because of Monday’s beanball incidents. Said Pirate Manager Jim Leyland: “I’m tired of the Dodgers being made out to be the good guys all across the country. The Dodgers created the problem, let them live with it. And I don’t care who over there likes it.” Dodger Manager Tom Lasorda didn’t like it. “Why do they keep bringing it up?” he said. “As far as I’m concerned, it’s dead. I’ve got no more comment.”


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