SAN FRANCISCO — Just in case words weren't enough, Pedro Guerrero had his bat and spikes at the ready for the Dodgers on Saturday.
"If they needed me to pinch-hit, I would have," said Guerrero, who had missed the last 15 games with a sprained left wrist. "I was thinking about last night's game."
He wasn't the only one, which is one reason that the Dodgers held a clubhouse meeting before playing Saturday afternoon. Two of the keynote speakers were Enos Cabell and Bill Madlock, although the seven hits they would get between them in the Dodgers' 11-2 win over the San Francisco Giants made a greater impact on the club than anything that was said.
"It helps if you can show them the way," said Cabell, whose first four-hit game as a Dodger helped end the team's three-game losing streak and restore the Dodger lead to 5 1/2 games over Cincinnati, a 9-5 loser at Houston.
The Dodgers, whose lead over the Reds had been cut by five games in the last week, started subtracting from the magic number again. With 14 games left, any combination of Dodger wins and Red losses totaling 10 adds up to a Western Division title for the Dodgers.
"We're in a good situation, regardless of what people think," said Madlock, who singled twice to start rallies and singled again in a seven-run fifth inning, which was greased by an error by Giant shortstop Jose Uribe and capped by a three-run homer by Dodger shortstop Mariano Duncan.
"We talked about having fun and enjoying ourselves," Madlock said. "We haven't been doing that the last few days.
"We've gotten ahead but haven't had the killer instinct. We could have put teams away but didn't. . . . When you have leads and give 'em up, you start thinking, 'Here we go again,' but you can't do that."
The Giants were never in a position to take the lead away from Jerry Reuss, who not only carried a two-hit shutout into the ninth but also singled in the Dodgers' first run and drove in another with a sacrifice fly.
"We played looser than we'd been recently," said Reuss, who lost a shutout for the fourth time this season on a ninth-inning home run. Dan Gladden's wind-aided blow was responsible this time.
"We went out and took the situation in our own hands," Reuss said. "Hopefully, after the valleys, we're back to the peaks."
Saturday's 16-hit slaughter came at the expense of four Giant pitchers who were out of their element. Mark Davis, normally a reliever, made his first start of the season when scheduled starter Jim Gott came up with a sore shoulder. The three pitchers who followed Davis--Jeff Robinson, Colin Ward, and Bobby (Big Money) Moore--all had spent most of the season in the minors.
"I pitched as well as I could," said Davis, who gave up Candy Maldonado's two-run double in the fourth and departed after three straight hits to open the fifth.
"At least, I don't feel like I beat myself."
Robinson, who had pitched 1 innings for the Giants this season, was the victim of Duncan's sixth home run of the season. Ward was making his big league debut. And Moore, who had given up a home run to the first batter he faced in the majors, got his nickname because of his fines for coming late to the ballpark when he played for Double-A Shreveport.
Cabell suspects that the Dodgers might have been a little early in their presumption that the race in the West was over.
"I think we probably figured when we left Cincinnati after beating them two out of four that it was over, but it wasn't," Cabell said.
"We felt that nobody could beat us, and after that, we played dead baseball. There was no excitement. It was like, 'Hurry up, win it and go into the playoffs,' but it didn't work out that way. . . .
"We've never been as dead as we were the last three or four games. We didn't bunt well, we didn't run the bases well, we didn't hit, we didn't catch the ball. You can't win that way. Today, we went back to fundamental baseball."
That, of course, was relief for Manager Tom Lasorda.
"It was a very big game," Lasorda said. "We needed it very, very desperately. They (the Dodgers) gathered together today, they talked about it and they went out and did it."
Cabell and Madlock couldn't have said it any better.