Advertisement

Astacio Makes His Case Clear : Dodgers: He appears to have earned a spot in rotation after stopping the Mets on six hits, 4-0. It is his second shutout in four major league starts.

TIMES STAFF WRITER

One day after it became obvious who Pedro Astacio would not replace in the Dodgers’ starting rotation during the final weeks, another truth became clear Tuesday night.

The Dodgers had better make room somehow.

Somebody has to go.

He didn’t pitch a no-hitter, as did Kevin Gross on Monday night, but once again Astacio proved that he could be next with a 4-0, six-hit victory over the New York Mets before 25,295 at Dodger Stadium.

Advertisement

Astacio’s line: four major league starts, two shutouts, and three runs given up in 31 innings for an earned-run average of 0.87.

“I felt I was going to complete this game,” Astacio said through a translator. “I felt good the whole game, I felt like all the guys in the infield were supporting me.”

Showing he can do more than merely overpower hitters, as he did with 10 strikeouts in his major league-debut shutout against the Montreal Expos here July 3, Astacio struck out only two.

But of the six hits against him, only one was for extra bases, a leadoff double during the seventh inning by Todd Hundley. Hundley was the only Met to advance as far as third base, but he was thrown out at the plate by second baseman Lenny Harris on Chico Walker’s pinch grounder.

Advertisement

“He’s opening somebody’s eyes here,” said Tom Goodwin, who had three hits and two stolen bases. “If he’s not, then I don’t know what it takes to open somebody’s eyes. Maybe he has to throw a no-hitter.”

With Gross’ memorable performance, the Dodgers have thrown consecutive shutouts for the first time in more than a year, since they had three in a row July 25-27, 1991.

Astacio has one more start remaining before Tom Candiotti, suffering from a bruised knee, returns to the lineup.

But he has the sort of arm that the Dodgers will probably want to examine every fifth day in September, which means the Dodgers must somehow make room.

Advertisement

“Maybe we will have an eight-man rotation,” Candiotti quipped. “We’ll be the team of the ‘90s.”

In winning a second consecutive game, the Dodgers backed Astacio with runs in the first and sixth innings against David Cone, who gave up two runs in six innings and struck out only four, his lowest total since April 17.

Cone left the game with observers still wondering about his arm, which threw 166 pitches on July 17 against the San Francisco Giants and has not seemed the same since.

He was 10-4 after beating the Giants by 1-0 that day. But since then, before Tuesday, he had gone 2-2 in five starts with a 4.50 ERA.

Advertisement

The Dodgers added two runs in the seventh against three relievers during an inning featuring five stolen bases, giving the Dodgers’ a season-high six steals.

Both runs scored on Mitch Webster’s pinch single, giving him a team-high nine pinch runs batted in to complement his .364 pinch-hit average.

“Just fighting to keep a job,” Webster said.

The injury-riddled Mets have lost 11 of 12 games. For now, their only positive is the scheduled return of Bobby Bonilla today after 15 days on the disabled list because of a rib injury.

Advertisement

Because of their various injuries, the Mets started a lineup that was nearly as young as the Dodgers’, with three rookies--including second baseman Jeff McKnight and third baseman Chris Donnels.

Between them, the two players had a total of 61 at-bats this season.

The Dodgers scored during the first inning after Brett Butler was dropped at home plate by a Cone fastball that hit him in the left knee.

Butler stole second and then hustled home on Harris’ double past a diving Eddie Murray at first base to give the Dodgers the lead.

Advertisement

Butler hit his 11th triple of the season during the sixth inning, the most triples by a Dodger since Willie Davis had 16 in 1970.

From there, Butler scored on Henry Rodriguez’s two-out single.


Advertisement