Murray Ties Mantle Feat; Dodgers Win
Eddie Murray and Mickey Mantle. The names were linked Saturday night by a major league record that Murray equaled in Bronx Bomber style.
Murray hit a home run against the San Diego Padres in the second inning while batting from the right side of the plate. And his line-drive homer in the 11th inning batting left-handed gave the Dodgers a 5-4 victory before 40,794 at San Diego Jack Murphy Stadium.
It was the 10th game during his 14-year career in which Murray has homered from both sides of the plate, tying Mantle for the major league record.
Murray’s game-winning line drive, on Eric Show’s second pitch of the inning, also set the stage for John Wetteland’s first victory since opening day.
Murray and Wetteland saved the Dodgers from another late disaster after Joe Carter hit a score-tying home run in the eighth inning off reliever Jay Howell, who blew his fifth save.
“We’ve been losing games in the late innings that we felt we should have won--it was good tonight to fight back and win one,” Murray said.
After not hitting a homer since May 9, a span of 62 at-bats, Murray gave the Dodgers a 1-0 lead off Bruce Hurst in the second inning. He walked and scored on Hubie Brooks’ second homer in two nights in the fourth.
Murray hit line drives in the fifth and eighth innings that drove fielders to the warning track. In the 11th, even Murray’s teammates were thinking about his chances for a record.
“Chris Gwynn talked about it a little bit on the bench so, yeah, I guess you can say I was thinking about it a little bit,” said Murray, who has seven homers and 27 runs batted in.
Murray smiled. “I told (Gwynn), yeah, I was going for it,” he said. “With a record like that, you don’t have too many chances to get it. You have to figure, how many times are you going to be in that situation? I’m just glad to share it. It’s a lot better than ending your career one behind.”
The home run equaled this series at one game apiece while moving the Dodgers to within 8 1/2 games of the first-place Cincinnati Reds, and two behind second-place San Diego.
“It was like, if we lost the first game down here, we had to win the next two,” Wetteland said. “We could not lose more ground. This was very important.”
Wetteland pitched like it was important, striking out Carter to end the game. Since discovering a flaw in his windup, Wetteland has thrown three scoreless innings, although his earned-run average is still 6.67 and he remains a candidate for demotion to triple-A Albuquerque when Ray Searage comes off the disabled list next week.
“My confidence was never lacking, my application of knowledge was lacking,” Wetteland said. “I felt I could still get them out . . . now I’m finally doing it.”
Nobody was happier to see Wetteland succeed than Jay Howell, and not simply because Howell is the leader of the bullpen. Moments after he entered the game in the eighth, with the Dodgers leading 4-3, Howell gave up a line-drive home run to left field by Carter. It was Howell’s second consecutive blown save, and bullpen’s ninth blown save in 16 save opportunities.
The Dodgers had taken a 4-0 lead after six innings on Murray’s first homer, Brooks’ homer and Alfredo Griffin’s sacrifice fly.
Dodger starter Fernando Valenzuela, who gave up only one hit in the first five innings, tired in the sixth and the Padres scored three runs on Tony Gwynn’s RBI single and Jack Clark’s two-run homer.
“I’m tired of hearing how I pitched a good game,” Valenzuela said. “I got another no-decision because I make bad pitches. I’m tired of hearing how I do good, but get nothing.”
Kirk Gibson, scheduled to bat leadoff for the first time this season, was scratched shortly before the start of the game because of soreness and stiffness in his left leg. . . . Tim Belcher is trying something new to preserve his arm--he is not throwing off a mound between starts. This method didn’t work Friday, as he gave up five runs on 10 hits to the Padres in five innings during an eventual 12-6 loss. But he said that his arm felt fine during the game. “It was my execution of pitches that was terrible,” Belcher said. “But I wasn’t the only one who had a night like that.”
Jim Gott, who gave up two earned runs in two-thirds of an inning while being tagged with the loss Friday, apologized for being unavailable to the media afterward. He said he was so mad, he left the clubhouse and walked two miles to the team’s hotel. “This is very frustrating,” Gott said. “I am so glad to be here, whether because of my fantasy of one day wearing Dodger blue or because I grew up in the area and it’s neat to come home. Because I am so glad, I really want to prove myself . . . and I so I am not showing patience. The arm feels so good, I am trying to do everything. I need to slow down.”