Dreifort Does Double Duty in Dodger Win
With baseball’s top two home run hitters--the Dodgers’ Gary Sheffield and the Chicago Cubs’ Sammy Sosa--in town, you figured there would be offensive fireworks at Dodger Stadium.
But a pitcher getting involved and hitting two home runs?
Starter Darren Dreifort did just that to lead the Dodgers to a 7-5 victory over the Cubs on Tuesday night in front of 46,373, ending a three-game losing streak.
The big inning for the Dodgers was the fourth, when they hit a club-record four homers, sending 10 batters to the plate.
Kevin Elster led things off with a solo shot to left off Chicago rookie Phil Norton, who was making his second major league start after being recalled from triple-A Iowa on July 31.
Elster’s shot was followed by Dreifort’s first homer, a 441-foot shot to the right-center pavilion on a one-and-one Norton offering. It marked the fifth time the Dodgers hit back-to-back home runs.
With two out, Sheffield stroked his league-leading 36th homer, a shot to left-center on a one-strike pitch.
After Eric Karros singled, Shawn Green crushed a Norton pitch deep into the right-field pavilion for his 21st homer, giving the Dodgers a 6-3 lead.
Cub Manager Don Baylor pulled the left-handed Norton after Green’s homer. It marked the 18th time a pitcher had given up four home runs in an inning, the 10th time the dubious feat had been achieved in the National League.
Right-hander Todd Van Poppel replaced Norton and, in the fifth inning, fared no better against Dreifort, who took the reliever 462 feet to left-center on a full-count fastball for his second homer of the game and third of the season.
“We hit five [homers] tonight and that’s outstanding. We didn’t need to hit that many to win, but we did,” Dreifort said.
Dreifort became the first Dodger pitcher to hit two home runs in a game since Don Drysdale did it against the Milwaukee Braves at the Coliseum on Aug. 23, 1958, the Dodgers’ first year in Los Angeles after moving from Brooklyn.
It is also the first time a Dodger pitcher has hit three homers in a season since Fernando Valenzuela accomplished the feat in 1984.
Plus, it marks the first time a major league pitcher has hit two home runs in a game since the Atlanta Braves’ Derek Lilliquist stroked a pair against the New York Mets on May 1, 1990.
“We all know he’s got pop. All the pitchers in the league know he’s got pop. That’s why they always start him with breaking balls away. The difference was tonight he got good pitches to hit and he hit them,” third baseman Adrian Beltre said.
After enduring a stretch where he lost six of seven decisions, Dreifort (9-7) won his career-best fifth consecutive game. He gave up four runs, two earned, and six hits in 6 2/3 innings, striking out five and walking four.
“Dreifort pitched outstanding. The team was up tonight and Dreif was magnificent [on the mound and at the plate]. It was just a very strong game. Two earned runs and a half-a-mile of home runs,” Manager Davey Johnson said.
Norton (0-1) took the loss after giving up six runs and nine hits in 3 2/3 innings.
The Cubs scored in the third, courtesy of a Dodger defensive lapse.
With one out and Norton, who singled, on second and Ricky Gutierrez, who walked, on first, Sosa bounced a seemingly inning-ending double-play grounder to Elster.
But Elster rushed his throw to Mark Grudzielanek at second, the ball going down the first-base line. Norton scored as did Gutierrez, whose diving slide eluded catcher Todd Hundley’s swiping tag. Sosa went to second on the play and scored on Mark Grace’s single, giving the Cubs a short-lived 3-1 lead.