When Tim Belcher tired in the ninth and the call went to the bullpen for a right-hander with the potential tying run coming to the plate, Jay Howell, who has 11 saves, appeared the obvious choice. But Tim Crews came in and got the save. Manager Tom Lasorda said Howell was being given a day off. The Dodgers are finishing a stretch of games on 20 consecutive days; most have been close, and Howell has at least warmed up in many of them.
"We've played 100 days in a row and I can't be a hero every day," Howell said, adding he is fine physically. "Some days I just have to take off, and some have been good save opportunities--but I can't be stingy. I've thrown in a lot of different situations, and all our games have been close. That doesn't leave a lot of days for rest and relaxation."
Dodger starting pitchers have a 1.99 earned-run average in the past 20 games with two shutouts and have given up three earned runs or fewer in 19 of 22. In the 22-game streak in which every starter has worked at least six innings, the starters are 11-3 and the team is 16-6. In that stretch the staff has given up 127 hits in 157 2/3 innings while striking out 105.
Brett Butler extended his hitting streak to nine games with a first-inning bunt single. It was his sixth successful bunt this season.
Pirate cleanup hitter Bobby Bonilla, who has a strained calf muscle, was out of the starting lineup for the third consecutive game, but did pinch-hit. . . . The four-game series drew 183,390, the best-attended Pirate series ever at Dodger Stadium.