Alex Trevino probably will return to his regular job as backup catcher to Mike Scioscia any day, but for now he is savoring his moment of glory.
With two on and two out in the bottom of the ninth inning Sunday at Dodger Stadium with the Dodgers trailing the Chicago Cubs, 3-2, Trevino hit a drive off left fielder Jerry Mumphrey's glove to drive in two runs and give the Dodgers a dramatic 4-3 victory.
Although there were some people, including those in the Dodger bullpen who thought Mumphrey, moved over from center in the eighth to strengthen the Cub defense, should have caught the ball, it was ruled a double.
Thus ended an amazing Dodger streak. Thirty-four times this season, the Dodgers had gone into the seventh inning trailing and 34 times they had lost.
It was a most improbable victory. For one thing, Lee Smith, who struck out five of the seven batters he faced Friday night, was on his game. For another, it appeared the Dodgers' best chance to get a win or tie had been lost a few minutes earlier when Mike Marshall, just back in the lineup, grounded into a double play.
"It sure didn't look good at that point," said Manager Tom Lasorda.
Steve Sax opened the ninth with a soft single and Ken Landreaux, completing a 3-for-3 day, walked. When shortstop Shawon Dunstan turned Marshall's two-hopper into a double play, the Dodgers were down to an out.
Len Matuszek worked his way on with a walk to breathe a little life into the situation. And then came another break. Trevino, who has done a solid job for the three weeks Scioscia has been out, worked the count to 3 and 2. Thus, by the time Trevino connected with a Smith fastball, Matuszek was in full flight.
Trevino hit the ball well, but Mumphrey looked as if he had the ball all the way. He raced back toward the bullpen gate, the ball popped out of his glove and both runs scored easily.
Mumphrey did the unpardonable. He seemed to take his eye off the ball at the moment of impact. Maybe he was looking to see how close he was to the fence.
Dodger bullpen catcher Mark Cresse probably had the best view of the play.
"He should have caught it," Cresse said. "He took his eye off the ball at the wrong time. Did they call it a double?"
Manager Gene Michael of the Cubs had a slightly different view.
"I wouldn't say he should have caught it, but he could have.
"No, I don't think there was any problem with Jerry being moved to left. We do it every time we have a lead late in the game. He's used to playing left field."
It was the first game-winning base hit for Trevino and he was excited. But he never saw the play at all. He was too busy running to first.
"I did feel I hit the ball well," Trevino said. "I hit it with the fat part of the bat and it was thrown 90-plus. Sometimes you hit the ball hard and it's just a line drive out. This one I knew I hit it hard.
"I never say anything until I rounded the bag. I heard the roar of the crowd and then saw the ball on the ground and him (Mumphrey) looking for it. I ran to second and I knew we had won because Matuszek was running on the pitch."
Until the dramatic ninth, it appeared the Cubs had zeroed in on a spot at Dodger Stadium for back-to-back victories. The spot is about halfway between first base and the right-field foul pole, less than a foot inside the foul line.
Saturday night, with Alejandro Pena holding a 4-0 lead, it appeared he would make it through the sixth inning. But Ryne Sandberg found the spot for a fly ball double that fell just fair and in front of Mike Marshall to score a run and send the Cubs on their way to a 7-4 victory.
Sunday, after Marshall hit a two-run home run off Dennis Eckersley to tie the game at 2-2 in the fourth, the Cubs found the magic spot again in the fifth.
With two out and two on and Bob Welch trying to work out of a jam, Keith Moreland, fooled on the pitch, popped the ball down the right-field line in almost the identical spot. This time Marshall got his glove on the ball after a long run, but he couldn't hang on and Eckersley scored what appeared to be the winning run.
It was another tough struggle for Welch. The veteran right-hander, who almost saw his record fall to 4-8, went eight innings. A Moreland double in the third, a legitimate smash, drove in the first two runs in the third. He gave up eight hits, four of them doubles and walked four in the first six innings.
Until Matuszek walked and Trevino came through with his questionable double, the bottom five guys in the lineup had been thoroughly throttled by Eckersley and Smith (6-7). They were 0 for 15 and only three balls had been hit to the outfield by the five positions, all easy outs.
Ken Howell, by pitching a scoreless ninth, improved his record to 3-6. Smith fell to 6-7, instead of picking up his 15th save.
Immediately after the game the Dodgers announced that Bill Madlock and Scioscia were coming off the disabled list and Jack Fimple and Ralph Bryant were going back to Albuquerque.
The Dodgers, eight games back in the West, will also have Franklin Stubbs after the All-Star break. They are hoping the dramatic finish Sunday will be the start of something big.
The Dodgers, who will resume play Thursday night at St. Louis, are hoping to welcome back some of their injured. It seems certain that Franklin Stubbs, out with a hamstring pull, will return. He has been one of the highlights of a miserable first half of the season. Of course, it will be August before Pedro Guerrero (knee surgery) returns. . . . The Dodgers still believe they can win the division. It will take a complete turnaround on the road to accomplish this. So far this season, the Dodgers are 11-26 away from Dodger Stadium. They have 74 games left and 44 of them are on the road. It would appear to be a long, tough haul. This figures to be their best chance to make a move. They will play 10 games against the three weakest teams in the Eastern Division.