Advertisement
Share

Gross Chases Dodger Blues Away : Baseball: Only three Giants reach base as he pitches the major leagues’ first no-hitter of season, 2-0.

TIMES STAFF WRITER

The silver lining in a storm-filled season finally appeared at Dodger Stadium Monday night when an exasperated pitcher turned his hard luck into history.

Kevin Gross, who started the night 5-12, ended it with his arms in the air and tears rolling down his cheeks after throwing a no-hitter against the San Francisco Giants.

The 2-0 victory before 25,561 was the first no-hitter in the major leagues this season, and the eighth by a Los Angeles Dodger pitcher.

“It makes up for a not-so-good year for the Dodgers and myself,” Gross said. “It brought tears to my eyes, no doubt about it.”

He walked two and hit one batter, but of 99 pitches, only 28 were balls, and he struck out six. His final pitch was a curveball strike that was popped to left field by Willie McGee.

Advertisement

Even before Mitch Webster caught it, Gross was leaping off the mound. Soon his 6-foot-5 frame towered above a mob of teammates. As Gross finally left the field with a red face and wrinkled uniform, he thrust a fist toward the box seats behind home plate.

He was probably looking at several members of his family, including his mother, Margo Ingram, who later said it Gross’ first no-hitter since he was 10-year-old living in Diamond Bar.

“We were here, crying and praying for him,” she said. “It makes you feel real good. A lot nicer than hearing the boos.”

It was the first time Gross, 31, has allowed fewer than three hits in a game in his nine-year major league career. It was the first time he has won a game in five weeks.

The only thing more improbable was that his magical night was saved by shortstop Jose Offerman, who leads the majors with 32 errors but did not miss either of two tough chances in the late innings.

In the eighth, in what will rank as the play of the game, Offerman leaped to his right and backhanded a line drive by Robby Thompson. Half of the ball was sticking out of Offerman’s glove after he brought it down.

“After Offie caught the line drive, he came in and said, ‘We’re going to get it,’ ” Gross said.

With one out in the ninth, Offerman then grabbed a grounder up the middle by Greg Litton to force Mark Leonard at second base after Leonard had been hit in the knee by a pitch.

Mike Felder and McGee then flied out to Webster to give the Dodgers their first no-hitter since Fernando Valenzuela defeated the St. Louis Cardinals, 6-0, on June 29, 1990.

“Tonight Kevin had command of everything, and that can be the result,” said catcher Mike Scioscia, who also caught Valenzuela’s no-hitter.

“He’s had a much better season than his record indicates. He is the most overlooked pitcher on the staff.

“Really, it was easy . . . at least for me.”

Discounting the theory that says a pitcher should be left alone during no-hitters, Scioscia said: “We talked between innings a little bit to make adjustments. But he was masterful.”

The Giants, despite hitting only five balls out of the infield, appeared strangely unimpressed.

“He wasn’t anything special after the first inning,” said Felder, who hit only one ball out of the infield in four at-bats. “Speaking for myself, he wasn’t fooling me. He just kept us off-balance with his breaking pitches.”

Said Matt Williams: “He put his pitches where he wanted them. He’s always had good stuff, tonight he didn’t fall behind where he had to give us something to hit.”

Besides serving as an exclamation point for Gross’ career, during which he has gone 96-113, the no-hitter couldn’t have come at a better time for the Dodgers.

Mired in their worst season since coming to Los Angeles, they were on the verge of being swept in a four-game series by the Giants at their home park for the first time in 69 years.

Gross retired the side in the first inning, then walked Snyder and Williams around a strikeout during the second. But Kirt Manwaring hit a grounder to Offerman for a double play to end the inning.

Gross then retired 19 consecutive hitters before hitting Leonard in the ninth.

“As far as command, he is one of those guys who, at times he has it for a while, then loses it,” said the Giants’ Thompson. “He had good command throughout the night. He made a few mistakes, but we didn’t capitalize.”

Gross pitched 4 1/3 hitless innings in his last start against the Cincinnati Reds. But after Jeff Branson broke the streak with a single, Gross gave up two more consecutive hits, capped by Joe Oliver’s three-run homer that gave the Reds a 3-2 victory. Earlier this season, Gross struck out 24 in a three-start stretch that ended May 24.

Eric Karros gave the Dodgers their first home run in 116 at-bats during the second inning, his 17th homer and first in two weeks.

L.A. Dodger No-Hitters

Date Pitcher Opponent Score June 30, 1962 Sandy Koufax New York 5-0 May 11, 1963 Sandy Koufax San Francisco 8-0 June 4, 1964 Sandy Koufax *Philadelphia 3-0 Sept. 9, 1965 Sandy Koufax Chicago **1-0 July 20, 1970 Bill Singer Philadelphia 5-0 June 27, 1980 Jerry Reuss *San Francisco 8-0 June 29, 1990 Fernando Valenzuela St. Louis 6-0 Aug. 17, 1992 Kevin Gross San Francisco 2-0

* Road game.

** Perfect game.


Advertisement