As far as New York Met Manager Davey Johnson is concerned, Dwight Gooden is back on the right track because he is once again pitching within himself.
This certainly was evident Monday night at Shea Stadium as the 21-year-old right-hander pitched his second two-hitter of the season as the Mets defeated the St. Louis Cardinals, 5-2.
Gooden, who struggled a bit during the first half of the season, struck out eight and allowed only one walk, that coming in the ninth inning, as he raised his record to 16-6. It was his 12th complete game of the season and third in his last four outings. In his last start, he went the distance to beat the Chicago Cubs, 4-2, yielding six hits and striking out eight.
"I was never worried about Dwight," Johnson said. "All that stuff earlier in the season about not going for strikeouts was completely overrated. The real problem was that Gooden was overthrowing and putting pressure on himself. He wasn't staying within himself."
Before the game, Met pitching coach Mel Stottlemyre told Gooden to use his changeup more often.
"Mel told me that the key was to show more than a curve and a fastball," Gooden said. "I changed up speeds, and that will give me something extra for the Astros in the playoffs."
Said Johnson: "Dwight's the closest to being on a roll now than he's been all season. His last four or five starts have been very consistent. I feel he's in an excellent groove, and with two more starts for the playoffs, he'll get even better."
Philadelphia 8, Pittsburgh 4--Rookie Jeff Bittiger homered for his first major league hit and scattered six hits over 6 innings, while Mike Schmidt hit his 495th career home run to lead the Phillies at Pittsburgh.
Bittiger, a 24-year-old right-hander making only his second start since being recalled from Portland, the Phillies' affiliate in the Pacific Coast League, is 1-1.
Schmidt homered to lead off the seventh inning. It was his 37th of the season, tops in the majors. He also leads the majors in runs batted in with 117.
Montreal 5, Chicago 2--There aren't many races left in baseball this season, but Tim Raines is in one of them. Raines drove in two runs with a pair of singles, helping the Expos gain the victory at Chicago.
The two hits kept Raines just behind the San Diego Padres' Tony Gwynn (.332) in the NL batting race. Raines maintained his .330 average by going 2 for 5.
"All you can do is go out and get your hits and hope they don't get theirs," Raines said. "If you bat .330 and don't win the batting title, it's not your fault."
Raines, who singled in runs in the fifth and seventh innings, combined with Andre Dawson, who hit his 19th homer, and Floyd Youmans, who pitched a four-hitter through 8 innings, to end the Cubs' three-game winning streak.
San Francisco 10, Cincinnati 7--Dan Gladden's first career grand slam capped a six-run sixth inning at Cincinnati and enabled the Giants to move ahead of the Reds in their battle for second place in the West.
The victory put San Francisco one game ahead of Cincinnati with 12 games remaining.
Bob Brenly drove in two runs for the Giants, one coming when he opened the sixth inning with his 16th homer, off loser Chris Welsh (6-8).
Atlanta 9, San Diego 8--Pinch-runner Omar Moreno scored the winning run when rookie catcher Benito Santiago could not hold on to a throw from right fielder Tony Gwynn in the bottom of the ninth inning at Atlanta.
With the score tied, 8-8, Bob Horner led off the ninth with a walk, and Moreno went in to run. He advanced to second on a wild pitch and moved to third on a sacrifice. After an intentional walk to Chris Chambliss, Ozzie Virgil hit a fly to shallow right. Gwynn threw home and when the ball got by Santiago, Moreno raced home.
Gwynn went 1 for 5.