Well, at least the Dodgers now know that Carlos Perez cares.
The frustrated pitcher displayed anger over his horrible performance this season during a bizarre eruption in the dugout Wednesday night, using a bat to pummel a water cooler and buckets shortly after being removed in the fourth inning of another typically miserable outing.
The Dodgers overcame Perez's out-of-control display, rallying for a 6-5 victory over the Pittsburgh Pirates and ending their losing streak at four games.
Adrian Beltre's two-out, run-scoring single in the seventh against reliever Brad Clontz (0-1) gave the Dodgers a 6-5 lead.
Gary Sheffield hit his 14th home run in the third inning. The three-run shot to left field against Pittsburgh starter Francisco Cordova tied the score, 3-3.
The Dodgers took a 5-4 lead in the fourth on a solo homer by Devon White--his sixth homer of the season--and a run-scoring double by Angel Pena. The Pirates tied the score, 5-5, in the sixth on a two-out, run-scoring single by Brian Giles.
Reliever Pedro Borbon (2-1) pitched 1 1/3 scoreless innings to earn the victory for the Dodgers (30-33). Jeff Shaw worked 1 1/3 innings for his 15th save.
But the big news was Perez's emotional outburst, and the pressure is obviously getting to him.
He has been on shaky footing for several weeks because he has been awful. Perez got a reprieve to start Wednesday because Johnson bumped struggling right-hander Darren Dreifort to the bullpen instead of replacing the struggling left-hander.
But Perez's time in the starting rotation might soon end after his disturbing outburst, which will surely be replayed countless times on sports highlight shows. After what occurred, the Dodgers need to do something different regarding Perez. Quickly.
Perez began the inning in a 3-3 tie thanks to Sheffield's three-run blast in the third. Perez struck out Jose Guillen to open the inning and then his problems began.
He walked Abraham Nunez, batting eighth in the Pirate order, and Cordova. Johnson removed Perez after he walked leadoff batter Mike Benjamin, receiving a mock ovation from an announced crowd of 25,384 that expressed contempt for Perez from the outset.
Moments after entering the dugout, Perez grabbed a bat and began hitting the water cooler and buckets. He struck the objects 14 times before disappearing into the tunnel leading into the clubhouse.
Jamie Arnold, scheduled to start Saturday, relieved Perez in the fourth. The Pirates took a 4-3 lead when Arnold hit Ed Sprague with a pitch on his helmet, forcing in a run.
Arnold, who has already hit five batters in only 29 innings, worked out of the jam when the Dodgers turned an inning-ending double play. The run was charged to Perez, giving him four in 3 1/3 innings. Perez's earned-run average increased from 7.18 to 7.52.
Many within the organization figured Perez's days in the rotation had ended after his previous lousy outing Friday during a 12-6 loss to the Oakland Athletics. Perez was pounded for a season-high eight runs in 2 1/3 innings, his shortest outing of the season.
Perez appeared shaken during interviews with reporters after Friday's game. The flamboyant pitcher, whose antics have often infuriated opponents, acknowledged for the first time that he was simply lost on the mound.
Not that it was hard to notice. Perez has failed to complete five innings in four of 11 starts.
Scouts and players have said Perez's velocity has decreased substantially since last season. Perez's fastball has been clocked between 81 mph and 85 mph this season, and he has struggled with his command.
Johnson considered bumping him from the rotation because of his problems, but Perez is the only left-hander among the group. Moreover, Johnson believes Perez can't work effectively in relief.
Of course, Perez certainly hasn't worked effectively as a starter. General Manager Kevin Malone gave Perez a three-year, $15.6-million contract in the off-season, seemingly providing additional incentive to hope Perez magically works things out soon.
* DODGER REPORT, PAGE 5