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Dodgers’ Worst Isn’t Yet to Come

TIMES STAFF WRITER

On a day the Dodgers were throwing balls in the stands and under the stands, the only thing they hit was rock bottom.

Many might already have thought that they were watching the worst team in major league baseball. But now it’s official.

After suffering their fifth consecutive loss and third shutout in four games Sunday, a 3-0 loss to the St. Louis Cardinals, the Dodgers fell behind the Philadelphia Phillies while remaining behind the Seattle Mariners.

With 53 victories and 77 losses, they have a .407 winning percentage, the worst among the 26 major league teams.

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“It’s pretty hard to come to the ballpark right now,” Dodger outfielder Mitch Webster said. “It’s like we’re just kind of waiting to get beat.”

Once they do arrive at the park, it is as if some of them can’t wait to leave.

Dodger reliever Jim Gott was thrown out of his first game in nine years during the eighth inning when he screamed and stomped off the mound toward home plate umpire Jim Quick after a ball-four call.

“We are losing as a team, and everybody feels it,” Gott said. “No question, if we were five games up, I don’t get tossed out.”

Gott came closer to the plate than most other Dodgers have been lately. They have scored two runs in their last 40 innings.

The perpetrators? Pitchers such as Tim Wakefield, Mark Clark, Omar Olivares and Rheal Cormier.

Imagine Darryl Strawberry’s surprise when he rejoined the team Sunday after sitting out a week of rehabilitation because of an upper respiratory infection.

“I’m in the dugout watching guys go up there swinging like they have no idea what’s going on,” Strawberry said. “I’m like, ‘What are you doing?’ ”

Today, histrionics. Tomorrow, history?

The Dodgers are on a pace for 96 losses, the most by a Dodger team in 83 years.

If they can’t make up six games on the San Francisco Giants during the final month of the season, they will finish in last place for the first time in 87 years.

Things are so bad, the Dodger shortstop committed two errors Sunday--and Jose Offerman was on the bench.

The tone for the team’s 36th multi-error game was set early before 26,925 at Busch Stadium.

Ozzie Smith, the second Cardinal batter against Orel Hershiser, hit a grounder to Lenny Harris, starting at shortstop for the first time this season.

Harris’s throw soared over the head of first baseman Eric Karros and landed at the base of the first base box seats, lodging underneath the stands. By the time a groundskeeper figured out how to remove the ball, Hershiser was working out of a bases-loaded jam.

After the Cardinals scored their first run during the second inning on a walk and Tom Pagnozzi’s double, they added unearned runs during the seventh and eighth innings on equally bizarre plays.

During the seventh, Harris set up a run by throwing a souvenir to a surprised fan near the Cardinal dugout on a grounder by Bernard Gilkey.

During the eighth, Eric Young cost the Dodgers a third run by hitting a bat lying across home plate with his relay throw. The throw, which almost hit surprised second base umpire Jerry Layne and Gott, bounced into foul territory and Milt Thompson scored.

Hershiser (9-11), as sharp as he has since shoulder surgery, gave up one earned run in seven innings. Although he has given up two earned runs or fewer in 14 of his starts, he has won only half of those starts, losing three of them.

“I’m not frustrated at all,” Hershiser said. “We’re beyond frustration. We passed frustration around the All-Star break.”


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