With a seven-run lead, Orel Hershiser took the chance. He grabbed Mike Piazza’s bat and took a couple hacks at the plate, swinging from his heels on both and missing home run glory by a couple of feet.
“We proved it’s the guy, not the bat,” Hershiser said of Piazza. “He hits it out to right and I fall a few feet short in left.”
With his sinker and breaking ball, though, Hershiser showed Tuesday night that he’s the guy for the Dodger pitching staff, although his two runs batted in were appreciated.
Aided by a potent offense, Hershiser pitched Los Angeles to a 10-4 victory over Montreal, ending the Expos’ six-game winning streak and restoring some pride after Monday night’s demoralizing 10-5 loss.
Hershiser has held opponents to three earned runs or less in six starts, and in five of them he has turned a lead over to the bullpen. His 2.75 earned run average ranks seventh in the league.
“It’s important to see how he took over once the game started and came right out and was aggressive against the heart of their order,” said Piazza, who was three for five with a two-run homer and two doubles. “It’s good to see him step up and take over and that may follow suit with a couple other (pitchers) who see that.”
It was only the Dodgers’ fifth victory at Olympic Stadium in five seasons. The game typified how good this team can be if its pitchers can keep things close. It also helps if the fielders execute the game’s fundamentals, a subject Manager Tom Lasorda addressed a little loudly before the game.
“It was a good speech, I got up at the end and said, ‘That was a good one,’ ” Hershiser said. “I think he was real rested and delivered well.”
So imagine Lasorda’s reaction in the first inning when the Expos scored two runs when Piazza’s throw to third on a steal attempt sailed into left field past Tim Wallach, who was nowhere near the base.
“I said, ‘Let’s reverse it,’ ” Lasorda said. “Let them score first tonight and we will end up getting 18 hits. But we only got 17.”
With two outs, Marquis Grissom broke from second and Larry Walker from first on a double-steal attempt. Moises Alou swung at the pitch, and Piazza fired to third. “We should have had some communication,” Wallach said. “We will get that cleared up.”
And Wallach’s reaction?
“Here we go again,” he said.
After the first inning, the Expos, who had 19 hits against the Dodgers on Monday night, were held to four hits by Hershiser until the eighth inning, when Hershiser gave up three more, including a two-run homer to Mike Lansing, who hadn’t hit one out in more than a year.
“Maybe I should have used Lansing’s bat to try and hit the homer,” Hershiser joked. “He had a couple left in it.”
Against Rodney Henderson (0-1) the Dodgers tied the score in the second, capitalizing on an error by third baseman Jeff Gardner on a lead-off grounder by Eric Karros. Henderson, making his second career start, lasted only two batters into the fourth inning, when the Dodgers scored four runs, two on a two-run homer by Piazza off reliever Gil Heredia and another by Jose Offerman, who knocked in four runs, a career high.
Offerman, who has a seven-game hitting streak, had his best game of the season--he was three for four with a triple, two-run double and a sacrifice fly to increase his batting average to .221.
“He’s playing well and he has a great attitude and he will get that batting average up,” Lasorda said. “I talked with him (during the winter) about being happy and enjoying things and playing with enthusiasm.”
Meanwhile, Hershiser is also happy with his pitching this season.
“I’m elated, last season my biggest problem was consistency and this season I have been consistent, knock on wood,” said Hershiser, who gave up four runs, two earned in 7 1/3 innings.
“My first six outings, that has been the key. I haven’t been unbelievably dominating, just solid. Last season it was like, ‘Who’s going to show up?’ This season, I think I have an idea that I’m the guy who is showing up.”