Nothing’s New: Hershiser Wins
Once again, Orel Hershiser was the pitcher at Dodger Stadium who didn’t give up the big hits, who didn’t let his concentration waver, and who didn’t fold at his team’s neediest moment.
Didn’t it look familiar?
The old Dodger beat the New Dodgers on Wednesday night, turning in a series-salvaging, six-inning performance that keyed the San Francisco Giants’ 5-3 victory before a crowd of 34,596.
Hershiser’s first appearance in Dodger Stadium since 1994 wasn’t overpowering--he gave up three runs in the first three innings--but it was enough to move the Giants 5 1/2 games ahead of the Dodgers in the race for the NL wild-card berth.
“It was a clutch performance by Orel,” Giant Manager Dusty Baker said. “We made a couple of mistakes, gave them a couple of runs, but it didn’t bother Orel.”
Pitching on three days’ rest and summoned to stop the Giants’ season-high five-game losing streak (and prevent the Dodgers from sweeping the three-game series), Hershiser, 39, gave up five hits in the first three innings, then only one more hit the rest of his outing.
“He looked sharp--just like Orel,” Dodger Manager Glenn Hoffman said. “He made the pitches he had to make. He made better pitches than he did at Candlestick [on July 3, when Hershiser beat the Dodgers].
“He was sharp, had a better break on his ball. He looked focused on what he was doing.”
The first Dodger run was unearned, after a Jeff Kent error in the second inning and an Adrian Beltre single that glanced off of Hershiser’s glove and into left field, scoring Eric Karros.
The Dodgers made it 3-0 in the third on a two-run single by Raul Mondesi.
All of the Dodgers’ hits against Hershiser (8-7) were singles.
“He won the game, so it was a good performance,” said left fielder Matt Luke, who grounded out to second base all three at-bats against Hershiser. “But it was nothing we hadn’t seen before. We just didn’t adjust very well.”
Said Dodger catcher Charles Johnson: “He mixed up his pitches well. Pretty much kept us off-balance, really.”
For Luke and the rest of the Dodgers--and including the crowd, which seemed to barely react to Hershiser’s presence--so much has changed since Hershiser was a Dodger, there wasn’t much extra emotion involved in his return.
“There was a lot of hype before the game, but it was just another game for us,” Luke said. “You can’t be thinking about who’s pitching against you, other than the scouting reports.
Giant closer Robb Nen got the final five outs--including three strikeouts--for his 26th save. The Dodgers had a chance after getting the first two runners on in the eighth, but Steve Reed and Nen shut the door.
Meanwhile, Dodger starter Darren Dreifort, staked to the early 3-0 lead, pitched well--except for a handful of pitches in the fourth inning, which cost him the victory and the Dodgers a potentially huge series sweep.
Kent led off the inning with his ninth home run. An out later, Dreifort walked Stan Javier, then hung a 3-and-2 slider to catcher Brent Mayne, who ripped it just inside the right-field foul pole to tie the score.
“Bad innings will kill you every time,” said Dreifort (5-8), who pitched seven innings, giving up five runs on six hits, walking four and striking out seven. “The home run to Jeff Kent didn’t bother me at all. It was the walk after, and the home run to Mayne . . . “
Mayne drove in another run in the sixth with a one-out single against Dreifort, and Darryl Hamilton scored the Giants’ final run in the seventh, racing home from second on a Dreifort wild pitch.
But, as the Dodgers packed up for a four-game series in St. Louis against Mark McGwire and the Cardinals, Hoffman said he was generally pleased with the Dodgers’ 4-3 home stand against the San Diego Padres and Giants--the two teams leading the NL West.
“It’s not going to be easy,” Hoffman said. “But winning two of three is a positive sign for us. It would’ve been nice to win three, but we gained ground and that’s what we’ve got to look at.”