Phillies Nicked After Davis' Bat Is Given a Shave : Dodgers: Trainer carves inside part of grip, and the result is three hits, including a home run, in 7-5 victory.

TIMES STAFF WRITER

Eric Davis, who has spent the majority of the season trying to become his old self at the plate, decided to try something new with his bat.

Trying to figure out a way to alleviate the pain in his hand, Davis asked Dodger trainer Bill Buhler Tuesday to shave flat the inside grip portion of his bat.

Maybe Davis should have done that a long time ago.

The flat bat, coupled with three hits in his first three at-bats--including a home run--went a long way toward dulling the pain and easing the pressure off the rest of the Dodgers, who finally beat the Philadelphia Phillies at Veterans Stadium, 7-5.

So how did his hand feel afterward?

"Numb," said Davis, who was three for five, scored two runs, drove in three and drove out Phillie starter Curt Schilling (8-5), who left after five innings with the Dodgers leading, 6-2.

It was the Dodgers' first victory here since July 16, 1992, and only their second against the Phillies in nine games this season. It gives them a winning record (3-2) on this East Coast trip, with six games remaining.

"Everybody reads and hears different things but the most important thing for us when we go out there is that we are competitive, we want to win and we also want to prove everybody wrong who says we are not as good as we are," said Jim Gott, who struck out three of the final five Phillies to earn his 15th save.

"We really believe we can do this. It's not a vocal thing, we don't go around saying things like we are going to win, we are going to contend, we are going to wear rings opening day next year.

"What we have is a very nice, quiet confidence."

Pedro Astacio (7-4) held the Phillies to four hits through six-plus innings, struggling only in the first inning, when he gave up a leadoff home run to Lenny Dykstra, his ninth. Astacio followed by issuing three walks sandwiched around a couple of deep fly balls, with Darren Daulton's sacrifice to right scoring Mickey Morandini to tie it, 2-2.

But after that, Astacio didn't allow another hit until the fifth inning, when he also made his biggest pitch of the game. With two outs, Astacio gave up back-to-back singles. With a 1-2 count to Dave Hollins, Astacio threw a pitch in the dirt, and the runners advanced. He walked off the mound, took some time, and then came back and struck out Hollins looking at a curveball.

"It was a big, big pitch," he said.

Davis' left hand, which he had surgery on at the end last season, has been bothering him for about two weeks, aggravated in part by the pressure caused by the circular bat handle. Monday, Davis had asked and received a cortisone injection and did not play. Tuesday, he came up with the bat idea.

"Eric has a lot of talent--he hits for power, hits, runs, throws and fields well," Manager Tom Lasorda said. "And when he makes the necessary adjustments at the plate, he is an outstanding hitter."

Davis singled in Eric Karros in the first inning to put the Dodgers up 2-0, homered in the fourth inning to break a 2-2 tie and singled in Karros again in the Dodgers three-run fifth inning, which put the Dodgers ahead 6-2. Karros was two for four with one RBI and Lenny Harris' two-run bouncer over John Kruk's head in the fifth scored the other two runs.

But the adjustments Lasorda was referring to with Davis didn't have a thing to do with shaving a bat.

Since Davis suffered a kidney injury during the 1990 World Series, he hasn't been the same hitter. He made some adjustments that didn't work. Then, when he spent time trying to get back to his old swing, he tried making other adjustments on suggestions from people in the Dodgers organization, but those didn't work either.

"I have been trying to dig myself out of that hole since," Davis said.

Davis has been swinging the bat well lately, batting .306 in his last 17 games and .388 (seven for 18) on this trip, but it hasn't been enough to boost his overall average much. He is still hitting only .235, but things are looking up.

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