Andre Dawson had three singles and a home run and drove in five runs Saturday at Montreal to lead the Expos to an 8-3 victory over the St. Louis Cardinals, their fifth in a row.
The home run was his fifth in the last seven games and the 4-for-5 effort raised his average to .350. It's time to put out the word--the talented center fielder is healthy again.
Although Dale Murphy won Most Valuable Player awards in 1982 and 1983, there was an argument among National League fans over which center fielder was the better player.
Dawson received plenty of the votes. An outstanding defensive player, Dawson was the Expos' big star for seven seasons, during which he hit 165 home runs and four times hit .300.
Last season he was in and out of the lineup with a knee problem. He often played when most players would have rested. His average fell 50 points, and he hit only 17 home runs.
"I'm feeling much better this season," he said. "Last year I was hurt but now I'm 100% better. When I go to the plate, I'm confident I can make contact. Much of the time last season I didn't have that confidence.
"You don't try to explain a hot streak, you just try to stay consistent and not get cheated at the plate. If you start getting defensive, the pitchers will eat you up."
After Dawson tied a club record by hitting a home run in his third consecutive game and help the Expos move into second place in the East, he drew praise from Manager Bob Rodgers.
"We have a big plus in Dawson this season, because he's no longer hurt," Rodgers said. "Fortunately, Andre doesn't have to carry the load because we have a terrific offensive lineup. We have a good bench, and I used some of them today."
Cincinnati 2, San Francisco 1--After helping the St. Louis Cardinals win the World Series in 1982, John Stuper, bothered by a shoulder injury, all but disappeared.
He spent part of each of the last two seasons in the minors, but a change of scenery has helped and he has emerged as a winning pitcher for the Reds.
Stuper gave up a first-inning double to Chili Davis at San Francisco and a bunt single in the eighth to Scot Thompson for a two-hitter to win his third game, equaling his output of last season. Stuper faced only 29 batters in a superb performance.
Eric Davis homered for the Reds, who won the game in the sixth when Dave Concepcion doubled and Dann Bilardello singled him home.
Pittsburgh 3, New York 2--A throwing error by bullpen ace Jesse Orosco triggered a three-run eighth inning at New York that enabled the Pirates to pull out a victory.
Ed Lynch held the Pirates to three hits through seven innings and left with a 2-0 lead. Orosco gave up a double to George Hendrick and walked Jim Morrison on four pitches. Bill Almon, the third consecutive pinch-hitter bunted toward third. Orosco picked up the ball, threw it into left field, Hendrick scoring and the other runners winding up on second and third.
Sixto Lezcano singled in the tying run, and Tony Pena singled in the go-ahead run.
John Candelaria struck out three of the six batters he faced to earn his fourth save.
Atlanta 8, Houston 2--Unbeaten Rick Mahler became the first five-game winner in the majors when he went eight strong innings at Houston.
Mahler's task was made easier by Dale Murphy, who hit two more home runs and took over the major league lead with nine.
Mahler gave up two runs and three hits in the first inning, then was in control until Bruce Sutter took over in the ninth.
Philadelphia 6, Chicago 1--The Phillies are off to a rough start this season. It would be even worse if Shane Rawley wasn't off to a fine start.
Rawley improved his record to 3-0 in this game at Philadelphia to raise the Phillies' record to 5-11. Rawley had a three-hit shutout until the eighth when he gave up a hit and walked two before giving way to Larry Andersen.
Glenn Wilson, who had a triple and drove in three runs, also made a fine throw to cut down a potential run in the first inning. With Bob Dernier on third and one out, Wilson caught Davey Lopes' fly into medium right and threw Dernier out at the plate.