ATLANTA — Somewhere under the patchwork sheet of towels that wrapped him from head to toe Thursday night in the Dodger trainers' room was the aching 36-year-old body of Enos Cabell.
"They said I was dead," Cabell said, "so they covered me up."
But Cabell survived, even though he has a hole in his right shoulder after Atlanta's Dale Murphy did an inadvertent impersonation of the Karate Kid wearing spiked heels.
And the Dodgers thrived, pounding the Braves, 9-4, to climax their best trip of the season--four wins in six games--and bring them back to .500 for the first time since May 25.
That date also coincides with Orel Hershiser's last win before Thursday, when he decided to forgo critiquing his performance between pitches and just throw the ball instead.
"I was double-thinking myself," said Hershiser, who fell behind, 4-2, in the third inning but shut out the Braves on two singles thereafter, retiring 18 of the last 20 batters he faced.
"I had to stop thinking about mechanical things and just try to be natural out there."
The Braves' pitchers, meanwhile, resembled a natural disaster against the Dodgers, who had 15 hits off left-hander Zane Smith and two relievers, and had 42 hits in the three-game series.
Cabell and Steve Sax had three hits apiece Thursday, while Alex Trevino and Franklin Stubbs each singled and homered. Stubbs' home run was his seventh this month, the anniversary of Pedro Guerrero's 15-homer explosion a year ago.
The Dodgers also took liberties on the bases, Sax and Duncan executing a double steal in a four-run fourth inning that gave them the lead for good, 6-4.
In the same inning, Cabell and Stubbs teamed on a little derring-do that was either a brilliantly executed delayed double steal or an off-the-cuff routine that worked only because the Braves didn't know what to make of it.
It all depended on whom you talked to after Cabell hustled home while Stubbs was hung up in a rundown between first and second.
Manager Tom Lasorda, expounding: "That's a designed play we use."
Cabell, laughing: "That was improvised. A ghetto double-steal."
Stubbs, confessing: "I was picked off, but I knew Enos was on third, and if I stayed in a rundown, maybe he'd try to score. He did a great job, and I said, 'I'm not going to get caught now.' "
Cabell hadn't played in six games since pulling a groin muscle June 10. He had a hit-and-run single in the first, an RBI bloop in the fourth and an RBI double after Sax's triple in the sixth.
He also lost Ozzie Virgil's high chopper in the sun in the second--and thought he'd lost his shoulder in the eighth when he dived for Chris Chambliss' ground ball and base-runner Murphy, trying to dodge the ball, caught Cabell on the backswing with his spikes.
"I thought I had a separated shoulder," said Cabell, who came away with a bruise and a spike wound. "I'm happy it didn't break or something."
His synopsis of the night?
"I had fun and almost killed myself at the same time," he said.
But with Greg Brock unable to play first base for at least a couple of days and perhaps longer because of a sore left knee, Cabell said he plans to be ready if needed tonight, when the Dodgers play host to the San Diego Padres.
The Dodgers are tied for third place, four games behind Houston, and have a chance to go above .500 for the first time since the third game of the season.
"You can't go above .500," Lasorda said, "till you get there."
Hershiser, who gave up Bob Horner's 200th career homer in the second inning and four singles in the third, is 6-5.
"The first three innings, I was in the same rut I'd been in my last four starts," he said. "I was making bad pitches with two strikes, and I gave them two runs after two were out.
"I pitched bad with two out and pitched bad with two strikes. I was very fortunate they got me back ahead, or I might have been out of there."
While Hershiser's pitching got progressively better, his hitting stayed consistently awful. Normally a good bunter, he botched two sacrifices and wound up striking out three times.
The one time he did get a bunt down, second baseman Glenn Hubbard dropped the throw, making three of the Dodgers' four runs in the fourth unearned.
Hershiser had an explanation.
"I couldn't see," he said. "My left contact (lens) dried up on me, and everything was blurred."
It didn't affect his pitching, though.
"That's because when your contact goes bad, you tend to blink a lot," he said. "You can't do that when you're batting. Blink and you're dead."
Must have been the Braves, then, who were batting their eyelashes.