Ho-hum. Same old, same old. Death, taxes, and the Dodgers pouring out from the dugout for a celebration at home plate in the ninth inning.
Sticking steadily to the new routine, the Dodgers made all the right steps and kept to the beat to defeat the San Diego Padres, 2-1, Saturday night before a Dodger Stadium crowd of 46,137.
Sound familiar? Jim Gott earned the victory with one inning of relief, the Dodgers got another strong performance from a starting pitcher, and, with single runs in the seventh and ninth, the Dodgers racked up another one-run victory, their 12th of the season.
This time, Jose Offerman dropped a soft line drive barely in front of diving center fielder Derek Bell with one out in the ninth, scoring Mitch Webster from third and giving the Dodgers their fifth consecutive victory.
“It’s exciting to be up there like that because you know if you get a hit, it’s going to be a good game for you,” Offerman said.
It was the Dodgers’ eighth consecutive one-run game--they’ve won six--and their 12th come-from-behind victory this season. They have 19 victories overall.
“It’s not hard with a team as hot
as we are in the late innings,” said Gott (5-1), who pitched the top of the ninth to earn the victory. “The story is how we continue to come back.”
After Tim Wallach singled to lead off the ninth, Mitch Webster came in to pinch-run and was singled to third by Henry Rodriguez. With none out and runners on first and third, Padre Manager Jim Riggleman brought Bell in as a fifth infielder and Eric Karros grounded to first.
After an intentional walk to Raul Mondesi to load the bases, and with Bell back in center, Offerman got his 21st run batted in, fighting off a fastball from reliever Trevor Hoffman (2-1).
But the key run, according to Manager Tom Lasorda, came in the seventh to tie the score, 1-1, when Dodger starter Orel Hershiser was struggling to keep his team in it and it looked as if Padre starter Andy Ashby might never slip up.
“I was worried about when we were going to score that run,” Lasorda said. “That guy, he couldn’t have pitched a better game. He made such great pitches on (Mike) Piazza. He was that much off the outside corner, that much off the inside corner.”
Heading into the seventh, Ashby had allowed only two Dodger baserunners--a single by Offerman in the third and a Brett Butler groundball that shortstop Ricky Gutierrez could not handle for an error. Neither runner scored.
Ashby retired the side in order in the first, second, fourth, fifth and sixth innings and struck out six batters through six with sweeping pitches that had the Dodgers’ right-handed hitters lunging for balls out of the strike zone.
The Dodgers’ only other threatening ball until the seventh was a sinking line drive into the right-field corner that was snared at shoe-top level by Tony Gwynn in the fourth.
But in the seventh, after Piazza fouled out, consecutive singles by Wallach and Rodriguez gave the Dodgers their first serious scoring opportunity.
Then, with two out, Mondesi fought off an inside fastball, broke his bat, and blooped a ball into left field for a run-scoring single.
“When we tied it up, it was like we got a second chance,” Offerman said. “When you get a second chance, you have to try hard.
"(Ashby) was good today. Everything he threw was good. He was good until the last two innings--that’s when we started to get hits.”
By then, after some major struggles in the early going, Hershiser had settled down. He gave up three consecutive singles to open the game but didn’t allow the Padres to score when he got a popout from Phil Plantier and a double-play ball from Scott Livingstone.
“It was a battle,” said Hershiser, who pitched eight innings, giving up seven hits. “I struggled mechanically throughout the game, but I managed to battle and keep us in it. Compared to Ashby, who was just painting that outside corner, I didn’t feel that way at all.”
In the third, Tim Hyers singled, went to third on Tony Gwynn’s ground-rule double over Butler’s head in center field and scored on Livingstone’s grounder to second, but Hershiser stranded Gwynn and Plantier.
Hershiser was helped by another double play in the fourth, erasing Luis Lopez’s single, and got away with walking the pitcher when Bell grounded hard to second to end the inning.