There is something about leaving the bases loaded that can discourage a team, and that’s what happened to the Dodgers on Thursday night when they lost to the Montreal Expos, 7-3, at Dodger Stadium.
That, and Expo starter Ken Hill.
Even the umpires added their two cents, reversing, and rightfully so, a call that would have put the Dodgers ahead, 3-1, in the fourth inning. Instead, the Dodgers headed into the fifth inning with a 2-1 lead and ended up with a collapse.
The team’s offense, which had begun to stir, went back to sleep. And so did the crowd of 32,045, which saw the Expos knock out starter Ramon Martinez in the next inning.
Even without Larry Walker, who aggravated a hamstring during his workout, the Expos had 14 hits.
“The combination of both contributed to it all,” said Tim Wallach, who went three for four with two doubles and scored two runs.
“We had our chance in the fourth and they got fired up.”
Hill, who had given up six hits and two runs, came back in the fifth inning and retired 12 of the next 13 Dodgers to improve his record to 4-0.
“I have confidence the team has been scoring runs for me, it’s a big plus,” Hill said. “My location is a lot better this year and that’s the key. Make good pitches and good things will happen.”
After Eric Karros led off the fourth inning with a single, Wallach doubled to center. But Eric Davis grounded out and Mike Piazza struck out. Hill intentionally walked Jose Offerman to pitch to Martinez, who grounded to second baseman Delino DeShields.
But DeShields held onto the ball, walking Offerman back to first. Karros scored before the tag on Offerman was made, and plate umpire Harry Wendelstedt signaled a run. But first base umpire Randy Marsh disagreed, and Wendelstedt recanted, because it was a force play.
Then the Dodgers seemed to fall apart.
"(Wendelstedt) said he made a mistake, and I think he made the right call,” Dodger Manager Tom Lasorda said. “We had the guy (Hill) on the ropes and could have scored two runs. But he started throwing much better. He started to get his rhythm.”
Through four innings, Martinez had given up three hits. But in the fifth, Martinez struggled, giving up two runs to put the Expos ahead, 3-2, when Greg Colbrunn scored on a single by DeShields and John VanderWal scored on a double inside the third base line by Marquis Grissom.
“I was trying to keep the ball down and I couldn’t do it, everything was up a little bit,” Martinez (2-3) said.
Steve Wilson relieved Martinez and got out of the inning, but went on to give up two more runs in the seventh and was relieved by Roger McDowell, who got the last two outs to end the inning. Rick Trlicek started the eighth and gave two runs in the last two innings.
The Dodgers had nine hits, a positive note, but they still aren’t getting them when they need them.
“The opportunity was there, we just didn’t capitalize on it, that’s all,” said Darryl Strawberry, who was at the stadium at 4 p.m. taking batting practice with coach Ben Hines. He went 0-4.
The Dodgers mounted a threat in the ninth inning when Wallach, led off with a double and scored on a single by Piazza. Offerman walked. But John Wetteland, who relieved Hill after Wallach’s double, struck out pinch-hitter Mitch Webster and Brett Butler.
Wallach, who has been in a slump, said he talked Thursday with Lasorda, who told him to relax. It’s nothing different than what Lasorda has been telling him, but this time it worked.
“I’m just trying to relax all night, and I lowered my back elbow,” Wallach said.
The indicator of how Martinez was going to pitch came in the first inning, when he had thrown 25 pitches by the time Grissom hit a 2-and-2 pitch over the 370-foot mark and into the left-field pavilion. Grissom was the third batter Martinez faced after retiring the first two on groundouts.
Until then, the Dodger starting pitchers had not given up an earned run in 15 innings.
But the Dodgers, who had beat the Expos on Wednesday night mainly by scratching for runs, came back to score two runs in the second inning. Karros and Wallach hit back-to-back singles and Davis followed with a sacrifice fly to score Karros from third. Offerman followed with a hard-hit grounder up the middle that scored Wallach from second.
The single by Offerman came after he made a great play in the first inning when he charged a grounder by DeShields and barehanded it to make the out at first.