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Valenzuela, Bullpen Weather the Heat as Dodgers Beat Cardinals

July 19, 1986|GORDON EDES | Times Staff Writer

ST. LOUIS — Cardinal Manager Whitey Herzog, who has watched Fernando Valenzuela strike out five in a row in the All-Star game and also beat the Cardinals four straight times this season, admitted he made a mistake in the way he used the Dodger pitcher against the American League Tuesday night at Houston.

He didn't wear Valenzuela out.

"He won't pitch Sunday, will he?" Herzog asked after the Dodgers' 4-3 win over the Cardinals before 34,704 fans Friday night at Busch Stadium.

"Tommy (Lasorda) might bring (him) back."

The Cardinals, trailing, 4-1, after three Dodger home runs, nearly came back when Valenzuela--who had allowed just four hits and a first-inning run--was lifted after walking pinch-hitter Jose Oquendo to start the eighth.

The Missouri heat may have drained Valenzuela, but it only got hotter for the Dodgers, as reliever Ken Howell walked two batters and gave up Terry Pendleton's two-run single.

In came Tom Niedenfuer, who retired Tommy Herr with one pitch to end the eighth, then huffed and puffed his way through the ninth for his first save in a month.

"Hotter than a son of a gun," Niedenfuer said. "I don't know how Fernando did it. Some guys can pitch in this heat, but when you put as much in every pitch as I do, two innings is the max."

The Dodgers had just six hits off Cardinal starter Danny Cox but maximized their value. Franklin Stubbs hit a two-run homer after Bill Madlock's two-out double in the first, and Len Matuszek followed with a solo shot.

Then, in the fifth, Reggie Williams hit his first big league home run for the run that ultimately gave Valenzuela his 12th win, one-third of which have come against the Cardinals. His earned-run average against St. Louis this season is 1.93.

"I was beginning to wonder if I was ever going to get the first one," said Williams, adding that he hit a "hanging something" from Cox over the left-field wall.

Stubbs, who has 16 home runs, said he never doubted that Williams would take somebody deep.

"I just wonder why he (Williams) waited until we got to the biggest ballpark in the league to hit one," Stubbs said.

Dodger Manager Tom Lasorda was able to watch the game only intermittently from the dugout. Lasorda, who has had an upset stomach for the last two days, retreated to the clubhouse, where he used a two-way radio to stay in touch.

But he made the walk to the mound himself in the eighth to take out Howell, whose two walks Friday gave him a total of 37, third on the Dodger staff to Orel Hershiser and Valenzuela, even though he has pitched at least 75 fewer innings than the two starters.

"I thought I was on when I walked in and got (Vince) Coleman," said Howell, who struck out the Cardinal left fielder for the first out of the inning.

"But then I didn't get a few pitches called that I needed and I started fighting myself instead of relaxing. It's tough to pitch to an umpire and a hitter."

The Dodger bullpen has a league-low 12 saves, but Howell nevertheless believes the relievers have been unfairly singled out for the team's current plight, which at the moment has them eight games under .500 and eight games behind the Giants in the NL West.

"Every time I have an interview, the first thing they say is, 'What's wrong with the bullpen?' Howell said. "Unbelievable.

" . . . But it doesn't bother us anymore. We hear it so much, we just figure it's our turn to get the heat."

Valenzuela, who never before has beaten a team four times in the regular season, said he didn't mind the heat.

"It's good. It was hotter sitting in the dugout last night," he said.

"I was a little bit tired but not too much. Howell and Niedenfuer haven't pitched in a long time. That's what (Ron) Perranoski told me."

Niedenfuer put the tying run on base when he walked Mike Heath with one out in the ninth, but he struck out pinch-hitter Clint Hurdle and got Coleman to pop out to end it.

"With their lineup right now, it's not real feasible that they're going to hit a home run," said Niedenfuer, whose aversion to the long ball is well-chronicled.

That's not to say, however, that Niedenfuer is eager to appear in the near-100-degree temperatures predicted for the next two afternoons here.

"Go get 'em, Welch and Honeycutt," he said.

Dodger Notes

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