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Murray Stays Hot to Keep His Team Cool : Baseball: His second home run gives Dodgers the lead back against the Giants. Gibson also hits two homers in 12-6 victory.

TIMES STAFF WRITER

Eddie Murray has never been so happy to see a strategy backfire.

After the San Francisco Giants overcame his three-run home run in the first inning with six runs in the second inning Sunday, the Dodgers’ first baseman wanted to give his teammates a rest.

While batting with two runners on base and two out in the fourth inning, he was hoping only to reach base and keep the Dodgers in the dugout shade.

“The fellas were tired, I was just trying to give them a longer break,” he said.

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Instead, he forced them back to their feet with a second three-run home run, leading the Dodgers to a 12-6 victory before 49,005 at Candlestick Park.

In gaining a split of this four-game series, the Dodgers benefited from a 16-hit offense and eight innings of one-run relief pitching.

“This game sure was like a quick roller coaster,” Murray said. “We go up, we come down, then we go back up again, just like that.

“Games like this are difficult, but they let you know that you always have to keep playing, no matter what.”

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Kirk Gibson hit two home runs and added an RBI single for the Dodgers in the final four innings. Mike Hartley, in relief of starter Tim Belcher, pitched five shutout innings for the victory.

“It’s getting fun now,” said Hartley, who has returned from a minor league exile to go 3-0 in his past eight appearances with a 1.53 earned-run average during that time. “There has been a big difference in the last few weeks--everybody is playing hard and concentrating on every play and just having fun.

“And if it’s close, and we can get to Murray, we know we have a chance to win.”

Murray’s first-inning homer, a line drive into the left-field corner against rookie starter Rafael Novoa, came after walks to Mike Sharperson and Gibson. After Sharperson’s single gave the Dodgers a 4-0 lead, the Giants scored their six runs against Belcher and relief pitcher Ray Searage in the second.

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Murray then hit another long drive against Novoa in the fourth after Stan Javier walked, Sharperson singled and Gibson’s hustle broke up his potential double-play grounder.

About the only thing Murray didn’t do was break a major league record he shares with Mickey Mantle of homering from each side of the plate in 10 games. Murray had two late-inning chances to hit a homer batting left-handed, but popped out both times.

When asked if he was thinking about the record, he smiled and said, “A little bit.”

Said Sharperson: “Everybody else was thinking about it and rooting for it, I’ll tell you that.”

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Murray has three two-homer games this season, and a team-leading 18 homers. His six RBIs, tying a Dodger season high for one game, gives him a team-leading 63.

Murray has seven home runs with 21 RBIs in the last 18 games. During that time the third-place Dodgers have gone 11-7 and have gained five games in the standings, moving to within eight of Cincinnati.

But don’t tell Murray that the three games in Cincinnati beginning Tuesday are important.

“It’s too early for that,” Murray said. “Everybody wants to put so much emphasis on the games coming up. What if we win those three and lose all the rest? They are still just three more games.”

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But other Dodgers say the three games will be easier to play after a split was gained here. In their two victories, the Dodgers outscored the Giants, 23-8, while in their two losses they were outscored, 5-2.

“We could not let the Giants take three out of four, especially the way we lost,” said Sharperson, who had three hits Sunday.

“We needed something to get our confidence back. We know now we can go into Cincinnati and not lay down.

“If the Reds are going to beat us, they are going to have to work for it.”

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Mickey Hatcher started at third base for the Dodgers, his first start since June 26, and only his fourth start at third base this season.

“I did it because every time I put him in there, something good seems to happen,” said Dodger Manager Tom Lasorda.

Although Hatcher had only one hit in four at-bats, it was a single that landed him on second base when his hustle forced left fielder Kevin Mitchell into an error. The first-inning play set the game’s tone.

“Four weeks ago, who would have thought we’d be in this position?” Hatcher asked. “This shows you, anything can happen.”

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Belcher can attest to that. Murray rescued him from his second consecutive loss after he gave up four runs on five hits in one inning-plus, his shortest outing of the year.

“Bad stuff, bad pitches,” said Belcher, whose ERA rose to 3.81, third-highest among the four regular Dodger starters. “But I had a feeling I would spit the hook (not take the loss) because the other guy (Novoa) was not pitching that good either. His shower was running in the first inning, too. He just used up more hot water than I did.”

Dodger Notes

If the series with the Reds began today, Dodger relief pitcher Jay Howell would not be available. His left knee was still swollen Sunday, and many doubt that the swelling will subside by Tuesday’s series opener in Cincinnati. Tim Crews and Jim Gott could be moved into the stopper role for the three games. “It’s a big series, I’m doing everything I can to get ready for it,” said Howell, who has not thrown since Wednesday.

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Juan Samuel took batting practice for the first time since suffering a sprained left ankle last Monday, and said that it still hurts him to move laterally. He is doubtful for at least the opener in Cincinnati. . . . Lenny Harris, who replaces Samuel at second base against right-handed pitchers, turned his right ankle on second base while attempting to turn a double play in the ninth inning.

Kirk Gibson hit two homers in a game for the first time since July 14, 1988. . . . Mike Hartley has impressed the Dodgers as a possible fifth starter.


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