Orel Hershiser, who hardly ever leaves one of his starts before some of those early get-away Dodger Stadium fans, was gone by the sixth inning Monday night.
The Dodger offense, however, managed to stick around for the whole thing, not that they had much to show for it against beguiling Chicago Cub starter Scott Sanderson until a desperate, last-call rally in the ninth.
No, this game clearly belonged to the Cubs, who hit town Monday and hit Hershiser hard while watching Dodger hitters swallow hard in a 6-3 victory before a crowd of 35,819.
Whereas Hershiser couldn't muddle through on a rare off night at home, Sanderson thrived by continually fooling Dodger hitters with an assortment of off-speed pitches.
It took eight innings and many instances of trial-and-error at the plate before the Dodgers could figure out Sanderson. When the Dodgers finally started hitting him, they trailed by five runs.
They made a nice try, though. With one out in the ninth, Ken Landreaux homered to right. Any Cub hope that Landreaux's first home run of the season was merely an isolated incident was erased when Bill Madlock followed with home run near the left-field foul pole.
Suddenly, it was 6-3, Cubs. After Pedro Guerrero singled, Sanderson's complete game was history, and even a win was questionable. Chicago Manager Gene Michael went to ace reliever Lee Smith, who rarely disappoints.
This evening was no different. Mike Scioscia lined Smith's first pitch to second baseman Ryne Sandberg, who doubled up Guerrero at first to end the game.
Sanderson, whose fastball probably wouldn't register fast enough on a radar gun to warrant a speeding ticket, relied on a slow curve that turned the Dodgers' big hitters into big missers--until the ninth, that is.
Meanwhile, five innings was Hershiser's quickest exit of his eight starts this season. More surprisingly, his off night occurred at Dodger Stadium, where he had earned all three of his wins via complete games.
Monday night came the fall, however. Hershiser allowed at least one baserunner in each of the five innings he worked.
The Cubs didn't necessarily hit Hershiser hard or long, but they did it often. Every Cub starter except for third baseman Keith Moreland had at least one hit off either Hershiser or reliever Tim Leary.
Leary, who entered in the sixth, brought out the power in the Cubs, who had hit 44 home runs in 30 games.
Not surprisingly, Andre Dawson suppled the home-run power. With two out and Sanderson on first, Dawson hit a Leary off-speed pitch that barely cleared the left-field fence to give the Cubs a 5-1 lead.
It was Dawson's 11th home run and 32nd run batted in this season. But he wasn't finished. An inning later, with Cubs on first and second, Dawson lined a single to right-center that scored Ryne Sandberg and made it a 6-1 advantage.
Hershiser, pulled for a pinch-hitter after giving up three runs on nine hits through five innings, never appeared in control. If not for some ingenuity and luck, the Dodgers might have trailed by more than just two runs after five innings.
Although Hershiser struggled in the first two innings, he didn't allow a run until the third.
With two outs and Dawson on first in the third, the Dodgers had to feel a little more comfortable. But Leon Durham then hit a nubber down the third-base line that Hershiser bare-handed and awkwardly threw to first, not in time to catch Durham.
That well-placed hit set up Dave Martinez's line-drive single to left that Guerrero cleanly handled just as Dawson reached third base. But third base coach John Vukovich didn't hesitate to wave home Dawson.
It turned out to be a good move. Catcher Scioscia, plate-blocker supreme, had to leave his position because Guerrero's throw sailed about five feet toward the first-base side of the plate.
Staked to the 1-0 lead, the Cubs had a chance to extend it later in the third inning. But Moreland, hitting just .187, perpetuated his slump by bouncing into a force play at second.
The Dodgers, who hadn't got a hit off Sanderson in the first two innings, struck back in the bottom of the third to tie it, 1-1.
Steve Sax, moved down to seventh in the order because he has yet to completely shake his slump, opened the inning with a triple over Martinez's head in center field. Mike Ramsey then knocked a hanging curve ball to shallow left field, scoring Sax. But any hope of a sustained Dodger rally was abruptly dashed when Mariano Duncan grounded into a inning-ending double play.
Trouble again found Hershiser in the fourth inning, when the Cubs extended the lead to 3-1.
Facing the bottom of Chicago's order, Hershiser walked Shawon Dunston, another struggling Cub. Martinez followed with a single to right that moved Dunston to third. Sandberg scored Dunston with a line-drive single to right that sailed just over Sax's glove at second.