ST. LOUIS — A full week's worth of defensive blunders, squeezed into only a few innings here Saturday night by the oft-dubious Dodger infield, eventually were swept under the Busch Stadium carpet thanks to a decisive display of late-inning power by Dodger hitters.
By the end of another long and emotional game, the Dodgers' three errors were forgotten, if not gone, after Pedro Guerrero and his cohorts turned a three-run deficit into a 7-6 victory over the St. Louis Cardinals before 46,247.
"I was very, very proud that they came back," Manager Tom Lasorda said. "We've done that a few times this year and it really shows what this team has."
The Dodgers, at least for one night, showed that whatever defensive foibles they manufacture can be overcome with sheer force.
Trailing 5-2, the Dodgers slinked back into the dugout for the top of the eighth inning having watched the Cardinals run them into three errors that resulted in three runs.
But the atonement, provided by the offense, was forthcoming.
Beleaguered Cardinal reliever Todd Worrell, who entered after starter Bob Forsch allowed a leadoff walk to Mariano Duncan, gave up an RBI double to Steve Sax. Then, Guerrero delivered a towering, two-run home run to left to tie it, 5-5. One out later, Mike Scioscia made the offensive assault complete with a home run that hit the foul pole in right.
That gave the Dodgers a one-run lead, and another run in the ninth driven in by Mike Marshall's single made it 7-5.
Given that reprieve, the Dodger infield then came to the defense of Orel Hershiser, making a rare relief appearance. Hershiser, who pitched a hitless eighth inning, gave up a run in the ninth on three hits.
With one out, runners on first and second and Terry Pendleton at bat, Hershiser said he was hoping for a double play ball, something the infield muffed twice in his last start in Pittsburgh on Wednesday.
But Saturday, Pendleton hit a sharp grounder that Sax backhanded on his knees. He flipped the ball to Duncan, who avoided Ozzie Smith's slide and completed the double play with a hard throw.
So, the Dodger infield wound up earning its redemption, after all, but the offense gets an important assist for giving the defense the opportunity.
"It was a great game," Duncan said. "We had three errors, but at the right time, Saxy came up with the play. Errors are part of the game. It can't get you down. When you win, nothing else matters."
When Guerrero is hitting at such a torrid pace, the Dodgers have little reason to be down.
Guerrero, nursing minor injuries to his left wrist, right shoulder, groin and both knees, is doing considerable damage to opposing pitchers. Saturday, Guerrero went 3 for 4 with 3 RBIs, raising his average to .362.
He had a run-scoring double in the first inning, a single in the third and a two-run home run in the eighth. Wisely, Cardinal reliever Rick Horton intentionally walked Guerrero in the ninth, but Marshall followed with an RBI single.
"I don't care who's pitching against me, because I feel really good," said Guerrero, who had a run-scoing single off Worrell Friday. "I just have to go out there and swing the bat." Lately, it has looked that easy for Guerrero. He is tied for second in the National League with 23 RBIs, third in batting average at .362 and tied for fourth in home runs with 6. "He's hitting awesome," Lasorda said. "All we got to do is keep hoping and praying he can stay in the lineup and won't get injured."
Said Guerrero, ice bags covering about one-third of his body: "I'm trying to find out which part of my body doesn't hurt."
The fallout of Guerrero's hot hitting spread to other Dodgers. Sax, less than a week out of his slump, went 3 for 5 with an RBI double. Marshall went 2 for 5 with 2 RBIs, and Scioscia had the go-ahead home run.
Now, if only the Dodger defense could produce like the offense has lately, perhaps the club would have a better record than 13-12.
The defense is capable of making outstanding plays, as the ninth-inning double play showed, but earlier events Saturday showed how bad the Dodger defense can be.
St. Louis' speed and the Dodgers' defense is a lethal combination. So, at least this time, the three Dodger errors weren't unforced.
In the third inning, Dodger starter Alejandro Pena commited a two-base throwing error on a pick-off attempt of Vince Coleman at first base. Coleman then scored on Smith's sacrifice fly. In the fifth, one of the Cardinals' two runs was scored on an error, this one coming when Duncan misplayed a cutoff throw from Marshall in right field on a sacrifice fly.
And in the seventh, a balk by Dodger reliever Brian Holton (who eventually got the win) and a double-steal involving Coleman and Pendleton led to the Cardinals' fifth run. Third baseman Mickey Hatcher forgot to cover the bag on the steal attempt and Scioscia's throw went into shallow left field, allowing Coleman to score.