MONTREAL — The caricatures that occasionally appear on the scoreboard at Olympic Stadium are only meant for a few laughs, but the one shown in the fifth inning Friday night perfectly illustrated the Dodgers' defensive foibles that led to a 6-3 loss to the Montreal Expos.
Dancing across the illuminated board was an infielder with a hole burned through his glove. Bouncing behind the player, whose head is turned back in comic fright, is the ball.
The Dodger infield literally was a comedy of errors during two strategic stretches, but neither Manager Tom Lasorda nor starter Fernando Valenzuela was amused.
"It should have been 3-1, us," Lasorda said afterward. "We played very poorly, no question about it. I was very disappointed, because we should have just given up one run."
Montreal's three-run first inning off Valenzuela (4-2) could have been prevented had Mariano Duncan caught a routine slow line drive by Tim Wallach that glanced off his glove and into the outfield.
The Expos had runners on third and second with one out, so all Duncan had to do was make the catch near the hole and tag second base for the inning-ending double play. Instead, both runners scored on the error. Wallach eventually scored on Andres Galarraga's single.
Valenzuela was victimized again in the fifth when a double-play ground ball turned into merely a force play at first after second baseman Steve Sax failed to tag the base with Bill Madlock's throw from third. Another potential inning-ending double play grounder was booted when Sax dropped Duncan's underhand toss at second. That set up Reid Nichols' single to right that scored two runs, giving Montreal a 5-1 lead.
Had they done a caricature of Valenzuela after the fifth inning, he probably would have had smoke coming out of his ears, like a raging bull. Valenzuela, to say the least, was not pleased with what he saw.
Usually restrained, Valenzuela couldn't help but put his hands on his hips and stare at Duncan after his first-inning error. He walked slowly around the mound after the two fifth-inning faux pas , trying to calm himself.
Duncan said Valenzuela never expressed his anger, but he knew it was there.
"I feel sorry for Fernando," Duncan said. "I don't want to say something to him now, because he may still be mad. Any pitcher would be mad, not just Fernando.
"The first five runs were not (Valenzuela's) fault. If I catch the ball (in the first inning), we have a double play and no runs score. Then, if Sax touches the base or if he catch the other ball, the inning (is) over."
Valenzuela, who didn't have his best stuff but had to work more than he should have because of the three Dodger errors and other mental mistakes, gave up 4 earned runs and 10 hits in 7 innings.
Afterward, Valenzuela was subdued, saying he and his teammates shared equally in the loss.
"It's part of the game," Valenzuela said of the errors. "The next hitter (after an error), I still try to get out. The 10 hits mostly came with men in scoring position.
"I get excited during the game. I know (the infielders) make good plays and bad plays. I try to pitch the same way. I feel all right. My control was a little bad, but. . . . Everybody has a bad day, you know."
You could say the Dodgers have had two bad days in a row. Even though they didn't play on Thursday, it took the Dodgers' charter flight 11 hours to reach Montreal from Los Angeles due to heavy air traffic and bad weather.
The charter did not leave until late afternoon because the club originally was scheduled to take a commercial flight, which was canceled. They arrived at the hotel here at 4 a.m. Friday.
For the record, most Dodger players did not blame the long trip for their apoarent sleepiness on the field.
But. . . .
"I didn't think everyone was real peppy tonight," Sax said. "I'm getting out of here now and going to bed."
Bill DeLury, the Dodgers' traveling secretary, was in the room when reporters questioned Lasorda about Thursday's flight, and DeLury said: "You can look for anything to blame it on. When you get 12 hits, you should win 7 of every 10 games."
Lasorda could have used travel as an excuse, but he didn't. "It was not an easy trip, but I don't know if that had an effect," he said. "I'm not going to use it for an excuse."
The Dodger offense, slumbering early against Expo starter Jay Tibbs, awoke in the fourth inning when slumping Franklin Stubbs drove in Pedro Guerrero from second base on a broken-bat double down the left-field line.
Two innings later, the Dodgers scored two runs on four hits off Tibbs, narrowing Montreal's lead to 5-3. The Expos added a sixth run, this one unaided by the Dodger defense, in the sixth when Galarraga doubled home Tim Raines, who had also doubled.
"I just want to forget about it and do better tomorrow (today)," Duncan said. "That game is over. . . . I don't want it to bother me in the next game. It's OK. I'm not the only guy who made (errors)."
Sax said he had a hard time picking up Madlock's throw on the first potential double play that went awry in the fifth. On the second, in which he dropped Duncan's scoop toss, Sax said the ball hit his knee. "I don't know what it is," Sax said about Olympic Stadium, now enclosed. "It was just hard to see. It was dim."
The cartoon illumination framing Sax in the background, however, was quite bright--and apt.
Franklin Stubbs, 0 for 18 during the Dodgers' last home stand, went 3 for 4 Friday night, backing up his contention that he was pressing too much at home. . . . Ken Landreaux strained his right hamstring running to first base after his ninth-inning single and was replaced by pinch-runner Dave Anderson. The severity of Landreaux's injury is not known. . . . Bob Welch (4-1) will pitch against the Expos' Bryn Smith (1-0) tonight.