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Dodger Lone Star Rides Tall in Texas

TIMES STAFF WRITER

They trailed by a run in the ninth inning Wednesday night against one of the major league’s premier closers.

They were down to their final strike with a hostile crowd cheering wildly for a knockout punch, and the Dodgers only had one another.

For one of the few times this crazy season, that was enough.

They rallied to a 7-5 interleague victory over the Texas Rangers on an error by second baseman Mark McLemore and consecutive two-out, run-scoring hits by Gary Sheffield and Eric Karros against Ranger all-star closer John Wetteland.

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And that came after the Dodgers squandered a 4-0 lead, and outfielder Matt Luke was ejected in the fourth by home plate umpire Rich Garcia for arguing after Garcia called him out at the plate. It was a wild night for the Dodgers, but it ended exactly the way Manager Glenn Hoffman hoped it would.

“The way the guys battled to the end really impressed me,” said Hoffman, whose team won the first two games of the three-game series.

“Wetteland is a tremendous pitcher, and to come back from one strike away against a guy like that . . . these guys really showed me something.”

Sheffield’s run-scoring single--on an 0-and-2 count--tied the score, 5-5, and Karros’ two-run double gave Dodger closer Antonio Osuna a 7-5 lead to work with. Osuna did his part, pitching a scoreless ninth to nail down the victory for reliever Scott Radinsky (3-4), who pitched a scoreless eighth.

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Osuna earned his sixth save in as many opportunities, and his second in as many days. He has not given up an earned run in 13 2/3 innings.

The Dodgers’ stirring come-from-behind victory against Wetteland stunned a crowd of 28,928 at The Ballpark in Arlington.

Wetteland (2-1) entered the game tied for third in the American League with 22 saves, and his blown save Wednesday night was only his third of the season. And the Dodgers entered the game 1-38 when trailing after eight innings.

But that didn’t matter to Sheffield and Karros, and that was the key for the Dodgers.

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“This was the biggest win since I’ve been here,” said Sheffield, who was acquired May 15 in the Mike Piazza trade and was selected to his fourth All-Star game Wednesday.

“This was big because we had so many guys step up and make big plays. My hit was big, but [Karros] came up with a real big hit too. That was the game for us right there, and this shows what type of ballclub we have.”

Karros doubled into the right-field corner, driving in the final runs. He was more impressed with Sheffield’s contribution.

“To be down 0-and-2, Sheff’s hit was huge,” Karros said. “For us to have a 4-0 lead like we did, and for them to come back on us, that obviously took the wind out of our sails a little bit.

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“But coming back like that is big, because now we can say we’ve done it. We’re going to be in that position again at some point in the second half [of the season], so now we can say, ‘Look, we did it against the Rangers.’ ”

The view from the opposing clubhouse obviously wasn’t as rosy.

“I made the wrong decision and that’s what cost us the game,” Wetteland said. “The record will show that I was one pitch away from getting the job done, and I didn’t get the job done.”

Neither did Garcia in the fourth. Replays showed that Texas catcher Ivan Rodriguez failed to tag the sliding Luke at the plate.

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Luke was ejected after he jumped up and slammed his batting helmet on the ground in protest.

“I think my frustration showed there,” Luke said. “He was right on top of the play, and he was in a good position to make the call.

“That happens in this game, but it seemed like he had it in his mind to call me out from the get-go. But the important thing is that we won.”

And there was more good news for the Dodgers on Wednesday. After a 4-1 victory Tuesday, interim General Manager Tom Lasorda announced that second baseman Eric Young was being put on the 15-day disabled because of a strained right quadriceps.

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But team trainers determined Wednesday that Young doesn’t have to be put on the disabled list yet. He is not expected to play during the Dodgers’ remaining four games before the all-star break, and he will be reevaluated after the three-day break that ends next Thursday.

*

ONLY ONE STAR

Gary Sheffield is the lone Dodger selected to the All-Star team. C8

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* DODGERS REPORT: C8


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