ATLANTA — l on their way to another double-time march through Georgia, the Dodgers lost a 5-0 lead and an 11-6 game Thursday night to the Braves. Then they discovered that Pedro Guerrero may remain on the MIA list longer than they had feared.
For most of the Dodgers, it was on to Ohio, where they anticipate a last stand by Pete Rose and the Reds, who have four games to try and cut into the Dodgers' 8 1/2-game lead in the National League West.
Guerrero took a plane with the team to Cincinnati. But this morning, he was scheduled to return to Los Angeles to see Dodger physician Frank Jobe, who will examine a left wrist that Guerrero says is getting worse instead of better.
"That's why I didn't do anything tonight," Guerrero said Thursday after taking no swings in batting practice.
"I tried yesterday and it didn't help at all. It seems to be getting worse. . . . My watch doesn't fit me."
Guerrero injured the wrist last Saturday in Dodger Stadium when he bent his glove hand awkwardly against the box-seat railing chasing a foul ball down the left-field line. The Dodgers announced that the hand was bruised but now are sufficiently concerned to take a second look.
For a worst possible scenario, the Dodgers need only look to the Braves and Bob Horner. When Horner injured his right wrist diving for a ball last May, the Braves said he'd suffered a bruise. A few days later, they X-rayed him again and found a fracture of the navicular bone, which hadn't shown up the first time. Horner was lost for the season. The season before, he'd broken the same wrist and was out for the last seven weeks.
Guerrero's absence from the lineup Thursday again did not have a noticeable impact on the Dodger offense, which scored 47 runs in five games here. In the first three innings, the Dodgers had two triples, a double and two home runs: a solo shot by Ken Landreaux that made it 1-0 in the first and a two-run job by Bill Madlock, his first homer as a Dodger, that made it 5-0 in the third against Atlanta rookie Joe Johnson.
"Right about that time, I didn't have a heart," said Atlanta Manager Bobby Wine, who could have used an oxygen tent. "It was a rerun of what had happened before."
But Jerry Reuss, on the verge of becoming a 20-game winner lifetime against the Braves (he came into the game 19-8) threw on a different tape, one that he would have preferred to erase.
Reuss, who had shown signs of wildness in the second inning, when he walked two batters but got out of it with a double play, left no doubt that he was out of control in the third. He walked the leadoff batter, pinch-hitter Albert Hall, and walked the next batter, Paul Zuvella, on four pitches.
When singles by Glenn Hubbard and Dale Murphy followed, making it 5-2, Tom Lasorda asked for help from the bullpen. In came Bobby Castillo, who aided and abetted the Braves by walking Horner, getting Terry Harper on a force play that brought in a run and then, after a pop out, giving up a three-run home run to Brad Komminsk. It was only Komminsk's third homer of the season and was undoubtedly his farthest, landing on the covered stack of football bleachers beyond the left-field fence.
"I was going to pinch-hit for Komminsk," Wine confessed afterward. "That's how smart I am."
Reuss, who'd lost his chance for an easy 13th win, wasn't feeling too brilliant himself.
"I can't tell you the last time that happened," he said. "I have no one to blame for it but myself."
When Reuss saw Lasorda coming to take him out, he turned his back and stomped off the mound.
"I had a five-run lead and I blew it, that's all," Reuss said. "It's not Lasorda's fault. He's been there as a pitcher--he knows what it's like. His job is to win ballgames. He did what he thought was right."
Nothing went right the rest of the night for the Dodgers, especially for Terry Whitfield. He hit a pinch double in the eighth, then slipped rounding third on Steve Sax's infield single and was tagged out in a rundown.
Then, after replacing Candy Maldonado in left, Whitfield was charged with two errors in the bottom of the inning as the Braves broke it open with four runs off Carlos Diaz.
On Glenn Hubbard's single, Whitfield's throw sailed over the head of the cutoff man and bounced away from catcher Mike Scioscia, allowing one run to score. After an intentional walk to Murphy, Horner crushed a three-run home run. The next batter, Harper, hit a ball to left-center that Whitfield misplayed for another error.
"With our starting pitching, that (losing a five-run lead) isn't going to happen too often," Mike Marshall said. "As long as I've been here, it hasn't happened more than twice or three times.
"What are you going to do. That's the way it goes."
With that, the Dodgers took a collective breath, waiting to hear how it goes for Guerrero.