There will be no parades in October for Goose, Garv and the rest of the San Diego Padre gang that tilted the freeway south last season, when they won the first pennant in their 16th year of existence.
But that doesn't mean they can't delay the Dodgers' little party this season.
The Padres, who breezed to the 1984 division title by a dozen games but came into Dodger Stadium as also-rans, 13 games behind the Dodgers, punctured a few balloons Monday night, coming from behind against Fernando Valenzuela in the eighth inning and then beating reliever Ken Howell in the ninth, 6-4, before a crowd of 37,571.
Neither of those occurrences qualify as rare anymore. Valenzuela, who couldn't hold a 3-1 lead, hasn't won in a month; Howell, who took the loss and is 4-7, hasn't had a save since Aug. 16.
"We can't control Cincinnati, but we have a chance to control our own little destiny here," Padre Manager Dick Williams said. "They (the Dodgers) are going to win it, but I'd just as soon not watch their celebration."
The Padres still could wind up as wallflowers at a Dodger Stadium bash tonight. Because Cincinnati also lost on Monday, to San Francisco, the Dodgers' magic number to clinch is two with six games left. They lead the Reds by 5 1/2 games; a Red loss and Dodger win today, and the division belongs to Los Angeles.
But first the Dodgers must get past the Padres, the only team in the West that has a winning record (10-7) against them.
Rookie Jerry Davis, who had only one RBI in 52 at-bats this season, broke a 4-4 tie in the ninth with a two-out single that scored pinch-runner Miguel Dilone, who had stolen second base to get into scoring position.
Davis wound up on third after right fielder Mike Marshall threw to the plate and catcher Mike Scioscia heaved the ball back into center field, then scored on Garry Templeton's double.
When someone told Davis it was his first game-winning RBI this year, he said: "This year? It was the first ever in my life."
For his part, Howell said there's never been six weeks in his life to compare to the period he's enduring now. In his last 23 appearances, Howell has given up 18 earned runs. In his last six, he has given up 10 runs in 9 innings.
"I had good stuff and I made the pitches, but I don't have the luck--I don't get it," Howell said quietly afterward while soaking his elbow in ice.
"How well does that tell you you're going? That's the question I ask myself. I've never been through anything like this. Every day, I tell myself it's going to change . . . but how many times have I come one out away?
"When a guy (Davis) reaches out and hits a ball like that, instead of grounding out or popping it up, he slices a hit . . . they (the Padres) have done that to me three times this year."
Once again, however, Howell's control hurt him at least as much as happenstance. He walked Kevin McReynolds on a full count to open the ninth, his 32nd walk in 83 innings after just five unintentional walks in 51 innings his rookie season.
Valenzuela has just one win in his last seven starts, a stretch in which he lost a 4-0 lead to Houston in his last start and a 6-1 lead on Sept. 15 at Cincinnati, a game that kept the Reds in the race.
During that time, Valenzuela has been pitching with a sore left ankle, an injury that he refuses to acknowledge has bothered him. "No problem," he said again Monday. "Only when I turn to swing the bat--and I had two hits tonight."
It was noticeable, however, when he hopped down to first base after one of his two singles off Padre starter LaMarr Hoyt. But trainer Bill Buhler said that Valenzuela has not come in for any treatment, and it wasn't even taped.
"No, I'm not worried about Fernando," Manager Tom Lasorda said when a reporter walked into his office. "He said he's OK. What's your next question?"
Valenzuela is well aware that he's 0 for September. "A long time," he said with a smile.
Tony Gwynn's two-run single had tied the score, 3-3, against Valenzuela, and prompted his exit. Steve Garvey's RBI infield out gave the Padres a lead that lasted only until the bottom of the eighth, when Steve Sax singled off Goose Gossage, took third on Enos Cabell's base hit and scored on Mariano Duncan's sacrifice fly.
"I'll tell you, I don't really think he had his best stuff, from the beginning," Gwynn said. "And whenever that happens against Fernando, you've got to take advantage of it."
The 3-1 lead the Dodgers gave Valenzuela was constructed primarily by Marshall. He led off the second inning with his second home run in two at-bats and 26th of the season, a drive into the right-field pavilion. Marshall also tripled down the right-field line and scored on Scioscia's perfectly executed squeeze bunt in the fourth.
An inning later, the Dodger right fielder--who had uncharacteristically dropped a fly the day before--made the catch of the night, a sprawling grab of Bruce Bochy's shallow fly near the line.