Life went from bad to plain lousy for the Dodgers Friday, who proved they can be winning a game at the end of one day and still wake up the next morning with a loss.
When the right-center field clock struck midnight, long after a two-hour rain delay in the second inning, they were defeating the New York Mets, 3-0.
But with Shea Stadium turned into an intimate after-hours club, the Dodger bullpen provided the macabre entertainment by giving up six walks and hitting a batter in the seventh and eighth innings, allowing the Mets to tie.
Then, at 1:16 a.m. here, the Mets won, 4-3, on Rodney McCray's run-scoring single in the ninth inning.
It was McCray's first major-league at-bat, and occurred in front of a handful of remaining fans from an original crowd of 19,237.
Junior Noboa started the ninth with a single to center against loser Roger McDowell, then Dick Schofield bunted him to second. Dave Magadan was walked intentionally, then Bobby Bonilla walked to load the bases.
This brought in Tim Crews, the seventh Dodger pitcher, who gave up the line drive past shortstop by McCray.
It was the Dodgers' ninth loss in 10 one-run decisions. And to think they were within four outs of a second consecutive victory, and an upset at that, considering they played without Darryl Strawberry or Mike Scioscia, who were both sidelined for a second game with back strains.
Mitch Webster and Carlos Hernandez filled in for the stars, combining to drive in two runs and score another. But heroics by them and Orel Hershiser mattered not after the bullpen threw 35 of 58 pitches out of the strike zone in an horrendous 12-batter stretch.
Kevin Gross, the first reliever, started the problems by walking Howard Johnson to start the seventh. Mackey Sasser, a pinch-hitter, then singled to right, moving Johnson to second.
In came Steve Wilson, who hit Todd Hundley on the arm to load the bases, then walked pinch-hitter Chico Walker to score a run.
Jim Gott relieved Wilson and escaped the inning with a strikeout of Willie Randolph and a double-play grounder by Dick Schofield.
But Gott caused his own trouble in the eighth by walking Dave Magadan and Bobby Bonilla to start the inning. In came John Candelaria, who walked Eddie Murray to load the bases and gave up a fly ball to left by Howard Johnson to make it 3-2.
In came McDowell, who was beaten by D.J. Dozier to first base on a grounder to first baseman Todd Benzinger, giving Dozier his first major league hit.
That loaded the bases again, and a walk to Hundley tied the game. Before Friday, rookie Hundley was batting .146, but in this game was walked twice, once intentionally, and hit by a pitch.
When these two teams meet again this morning after less than a 12-hour break, the Dodgers hope they can somehow draw some inspiration from some of the stranger happenings earlier Friday.
Hershiser may have set some sort of record when he was still throwing a no-hitter at 11 p.m.
Because 50-degree temperatures and a two-hour layoff in the second inning can place stress on even the soundest of shoulders, Hershiser left the game after giving up one hit in five innings and 74 pitches.
The only hit was a double off the right-field wall by Johnson with one out in the fifth inning. Hershiser was it his best when he survived two jams with strikeouts that followed intentional walks.
In the second inning, after Bonilla walked and took second on a wild pitch, Hershiser struck out Murray.
He then walked Johnson intentionally to pitch to Bill Pecota and Todd Hundley. The strategy worked, with Pecota grounding to first and Hundley striking out.
After giving up the one-out double to Johnson in the fifth, Hershiser retired Pecota on a grounder to third, then walked Hundley intentionally to pitch to pitcher David Cone. Right move again, as Cone struck out within minutes.