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Cardinals Feel Right at Home : Dodgers: After being swept at San Diego, St. Louis bounces back to beat Hershiser, 6-5.

TIMES STAFF WRITER

Dodger Stadium is only about 100 miles from San Diego’s Jack Murphy Stadium. But for the St. Louis Cardinals, it’s much closer to home.

After being swept in a three-game series by the Padres, the worst team in the West, the Cardinals outlasted the division-leading Dodgers, 6-5, Monday night.

The setting seemed ripe for the Dodgers to extend their lead to four games over the struggling San Francisco Giants.

The top Cardinal hitters were slumping, the pitching was ineffective and, in Orel Hershiser, the Dodgers had one of the most consistent pitchers in the National League going for them. In his 10 previous outings, the veteran right-hander had gone at least six innings in each and had not given up more than three earned runs in any of them. Moreover, the Cardinal starter, Vicente Palacios, had not won a major league game in two years.

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But this was a night when Hershiser had nothing.

The first three Cardinals hit safely and he was fortunate to escape after giving up only one run. Even the Cardinal outs were often hit hard. He finally departed after 5 1/3 innings, trailing, 6-1.

“I just wasn’t any good,” Hershiser (3-2) said. “There was nothing wrong with me. I felt fine. But I never felt I was on my game.”

Palacios (1-2), formerly a reliever with the Pittsburgh Pirates when they were dominating the league, pitched in the Mexican League last season. The Cardinals signed the 30-year-old right-hander to a Louisville contract last December.

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Manager Joe Torre was so short of pitching, he put Palacios on the Cardinal roster, hoping to use him for long relief.

“I had to use him as a starter,” Torre said, “and though this is his first win, he’s pitched well enough to stay in the rotation.”

Palacios breezed through four innings, gave up a run in the fifth and an unearned run in the sixth. But when Garey Ingram opened the Dodger seventh with one of his three hits, Torre went to his bullpen.

Hot-hitting Mitch Webster greeted rookie Bryan Eversgerd with a two-run pinch home run. Two outs later, Mike Piazza, celebrating his return to the lineup, hit his 10th home run.

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With the Cardinal bullpen as shaky as the Dodgers’, only a bad break kept the Dodgers from tying the score in the eighth. With Eric Karros on first and two out, Ingram drilled a double down the left field line against Rene Arocha, but the ball bounced off the railing right into the hands of left fielder Bernard Gilkey and Karros didn’t even have a chance to try to score. For one of the few times this season, a Dodger pinch-hitter failed to deliver. Dave Hansen flied to right to end the threat.

The Dodgers had another shot in the ninth. Torre brought in Mike Perez, his closer. Until he suffered a pulled muscle in his chest and went on the disabled list April 25, he had been superb, posting an earned-run average of 1.29 and getting nine saves. But he returned May 11 and has not been sharp, losing a game and being hammered each outing.

Brett Butler, in a five-for-25 slump, hit a ball into the hole at short for an infield hit. Perez fumbled Jose Offerman’s bunt and the Dodgers had two on with none out. But Piazza popped up to the mound, Perez got the next two outs and the Dodgers were still only three games in front.

Torre simply shook his head when asked why the Cardinals, who have lost nine in a row at San Diego, play so poorly there and so well here.

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“After the weekend in San Diego, we weren’t looking forward to coming here,” Torre said. “But what made it nice is we did our hitting against a really good pitcher. So, we feel pretty good.”

Mark Whiten, who had a home run and a run-scoring double against Hershiser, also couldn’t explain the problems in San Diego.

“I just decided to forget it and come here and try to have fun,” he said.


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