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Lasorda Likes What He Sees From Any Vantage Point : Dodgers: His team gets 15 hits and routs the Cubs, 12-3, moving back into a first-place tie with Atlanta.

TIMES STAFF WRITER

From his position in the third base coaches box, Dodger Manager Tom Lasorda has been forced to give up hugs in favor of handshakes.

It was left to Darryl Strawberry to wrap his arms around Kal Daniels when Daniels crossed the plate after hitting a three-run home run in the sixth inning of the Dodgers’ 12-3 rout of the Chicago Cubs on Sunday.

In what they hope was an offensive breakout heralding the final full month of the regular season, the Dodgers had 15 hits, including three each by Daniels and the awakening Eddie Murray.

Ramon Martinez recovered from a three-run homer by Andre Dawson in the third to hold the Cubs hitless over his final four innings as the Dodgers moved into a tie with the Atlanta Braves for the National League West lead.

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“Hopefully, this is an indication of what September will be like for us,” Lasorda said. “Hopefully, our three, four and five guys (in the batting order) are going to operate on all cylinders.”

He referred to Daniels, Strawberry and Murray, who hit a game-winning homer Saturday night and came back stronger Sunday, driving in three runs and scoring three with a two-run single in a five-run first, a solo homer in the third and a single in the seventh.

Murray has 10 hits in a six-game hitting streak that may indicate he has recovered from his “messed up” ribs.

Daniels, struggling throughout the season and refusing to use an ailing knee as an excuse, singled in the first inning, doubled in the fifth, then hit his 14th homer to the opposite field off Shawn Boskie.

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As Lasorda, who coached at third base throughout the sweep, pumped his fist, waved his cap and cheered on both his team and a Dodger Stadium crowd of 38,742, Strawberry responded with emotion to the Daniels’ homer.

“That was a reaction to seeing him get a big hit,” Strawberry said of the embrace.

“He’s really been struggling, and we’d like to see him on the right track. The important thing is being there for him and supporting him.”

Daniels, who came in hitting .251 with 56 runs batted in, said that Boskie gave him a pitch he could handle, but he didn’t classify his three hits as an end to a long slump.

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He said the inconsistency of the offense is an indication that the entire team has been experiencing pressure, not just himself.

“One or two guys can’t do it,” Daniels said. “We need everybody. The win last night was a momentum booster.

“If everyone contributes like they did today, we should win it.”

Said Strawberry: “This could be a great start to a new month for Kal and Eddie. It’s a lift for the entire club to see those guys swing like that. It’s definitely the right time, and it can be great for me because it will give me more opportunities to drive in runs.”

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Strawberry went hitless in the sweep, but he walked and scored when the Dodgers sent 10 batters to the plate in the five-run first Sunday.

Frank Castillo, who beat Martinez and the Dodgers, 2-1, in his last start, failed to finish the inning. Murray had a two-run single, Juan Samuel a two-run double and Martinez, batting .097, a run-scoring double, chasing Castillo.

In addition to the homers by Murray and Daniels against Boskie, Chris Gwynn homered against Dave Smith, a rude welcome in his return from the disabled list.

Martinez, who had lost four of his past five starts, improved to 16-9, regaining aggressivness, he said, after Dawson’s homer brought the Cubs to within two, 5-3, in the third inning.

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Although it turned into a laugher for a team that has played 72 games decided by two runs or fewer, Martinez benefited from two early defensive plays.

Strawberry threw out Chico Walker attempting to score from second base on Ryne Sandberg’s single in the first inning, and Lenny Harris made a diving catch of Boskie’s line drive with two on and two out in the second.

Jim Gott pitched the eighth inning after Martinez left, and Dennis Cook, just back from Albuquerque, was flawless in the ninth, after which Strawberry smiled and said, “We’re back in first. Let’s try to stay there.”

Dodger Attendance

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Sunday: 38,742

1991: 2,714,681

1990: 2,418,202

Increase: 296,479

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1991 average: 41,764


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