PHILADELPHIA — As usual, the Dodgers and Phillies are two of a kind.
Only 20 months ago, that meant they were both division winners. Now, they're both sub-.500 teams, battling each other not for pennants but to see which can overcome their mutual problems of lousy defense, minimal hitting and injury epidemics.
The Phillies, who had limped home with just one win in their last 10 games, got the sympathy vote here Friday night, the Dodgers sending their regrets in the form of a 10-5 loss that only a rainout could have averted.
It rained all day, in fact, but after a 46-minute delay the skies cleared in time to keep Peter Ueberroth's record intact as the only baseball commissioner in history capable of controlling the elements--at least those that are not considered illegal substances.
The Veterans Stadium crowd of 16,334 even lost interest in booing whipping dog Mike Schmidt when the Phillies chased Jerry Reuss after four innings, bombed Tom Brennan in the fifth and got home runs from Von Hayes and Juan Samuel, the two Phillies that have appeared most often in the fantasies of Dodger Vice President Al Campanis.
The Dodgers, meanwhile, succumbed to the offerings of one Kevin Gross, who might as well have been Steve Carlton or John Denny the way he sent L.A. batters back to the bench, bat in hand.
Gross, a 23-year-old right-hander who once pitched for Cal Lutheran, struck out eight Dodgers in the first four innings and wound up with 10 strikeouts, matching his career high.
Gross, who lists one of his hobbies as painting in the Phillies' media guide, found a willing subject in the Dodgers, who posed as a still life.
"I don't like the way things are going," said Manager Tom Lasorda on a night the Dodgers dropped a game under .500 for the first time since losing on Opening Day.
"I don't like the fact we're not scoring runs. We're capable of hitting better. We have to start hitting better."
Their lack of hitting, of course, is the very reason Campanis did not accompany the team east, choosing instead to intensify his search for another hitter. The Dodgers finished with 11 hits, the first time in eight games they broke double figures, but nine of those hits came after the Phillies were ahead, 10-1.
"Do we need another bat? We have a bunch," said Pedro Guerrero, who managed one broken-bat single in four attempts.
"Just look in that case over there. we have a whole bunch of bats. But another hitter? I don't know about that. I can't say anything about that, really. They (Dodger management) are the ones who know what we really need. They should know."
Reuss, who needed only 67 pitches to breeze through eight innings of his last start, a 1-0 win, had a notion this wasn't going to be his night from the outset, when Samuel, the Phillies' first batter of the game, blooped a ball to right that Mike Marshall was sure he'd caught at the end of a dive.
Marshall was so sure, in fact, that he remained prone on the artificial surface while Samuel cruised into second, mindful that second-base umpire Harry Wendelstedt had not signalled an out.
"I caught the ball," said Marshall, who journeyed to the infield to make the same point to Wendelstedt, but to no avail. "You can feel when you catch a ball clean, and I caught that ball clean."
Replays were inconclusive. What ensued, however, was decisive. Garry Maddox skidded a ball just inside the third-base line for a double and the Phillies' first run. Third baseman Guerrero roamed to his left to glove Hayes' chopper, reached in for the ball and wound up dropping it for an error. Ozzie Virgil blooped a hit to right for another run, and an infield out made it 3-0.
"A guy hits a ball our fielder says he catches, and the umpire says no," said Reuss, now 2-4. "The next ball was just fair and then there's an error. So a situation where I should have had two outs there's a run in and two men on. That changes the whole complexion."
The Dodger complexion turned pale in the fourth, when Maddox hit another ball down the line for an RBI double, this one to right, and Hayes--who came into the game hitting .356--crushed a Reuss pitch over the wall in left.
That made it, 6-0, and brought on Brennan, who once again brought down the house. The first three batters he faced went double, double, single, then Samuel finished him off with his third home run.
In his last six appearances, Brennan has given up 18 runs and 25 hits in 15 innings, with his ERA rising from 1.88 to 7.58. The Flamingo is an endangered species.
"I've got to use him," Lasorda said, "when I'm in a position of having to go early to the bullpen."
That, of course, left the Dodgers in the position of being blown out by a team nine games under .500.
"The breaks haven't necessarily been going my way," Reuss said. "But hopefully they'll change. . . . What can I do?"
That question could have come from any corner of the clubhouse--not to mention the manager's office.