After his brilliant sophomore season of 1985, when he was 19-3 with a 2.03 earned-run average, Orel Hershiser was no better than a .500 pitcher last season.
Through the first two months of this season, he wasn't even that good.
But then came June and, as the weather improved, so did Hershiser.
The Dodger right-hander capped a fine month Tuesday night, scattering seven hits in a 4-0 victory over the San Diego Padres before a crowd of 31,578 at Dodger Stadium.
The victory improved his record for June to 5-1 and the shutout improved his ERA for the month to 0.90.
In 50 innings during June, he gave up only five earned runs.
His only loss of the month was a 3-2 decision at Houston 10 days ago in which he struck out 14 Astros in 11 innings but came up a loser.
But Hershiser, who improved his overall record to 9-7, giving him one more victory than he had at the All-Star break two years ago, said his improvement is merely a reflection of his team's.
"We're playing great right now," he said of the Dodgers, who are 6-2 on this home stand. "I've gone the way the team's gone. I've gotten some support, I've gotten runs and some victories."
Steve Sax provided a two-run single, and Mickey Hatcher had a pair of doubles, entertaining the crowd with wild slides on each, but the night--and the month--belonged to Hershiser.
"You've got to put him down as one of the best right-handed pitchers in the league," Dodger Manager Tom Lasorda said. "Look at the numbers. He's got good stuff, good control. He's been sensational."
Against the Padres, he struck out seven and walked only one.
He also induced several Padres to pound the ball into the Dodger Stadium infield. The win made Hershiser 7-2 at home this season, was his first shutout of the year and improved his ERA, already the league's third-best going into the game, to 2.39.
"I enjoy pitching on grass," he said. "I've proved I can win on AstroTurf, but it's no coincidence I have a better record on grass."
Hershiser was given an early lead when Sax singled home two runs in the third inning.
Padre starter Dave Dravecky, who was 2-1 with a 1.32 earned-run average in his previous four starts, retired the Dodgers in order in the first and second innings, striking out three, but Phil Garner led off the Dodger third with a single and Dravecky then walked Mike Scioscia.
Hershiser sacrificed the runners to second and third and, after Dave Anderson popped out, Sax lined a Dravecky pitch into right field.
"Sax hit a good pitch," Padre Manager Larry Bowa said. "He just fought it off and put it in play."
Hershiser did himself no good in the fifth, doubling down the left-field line to lead off the inning, but taking too wide a turn around second base and getting thrown out.
Hatcher's belly-flop slide into second base on a run-scoring double highlighted a two-run Dodger sixth, which also featured the hustling Hatcher scoring from second base on a hit-and-run groundout by Scioscia.
"It seems like every time I get to second base I come up with a different slide," Hatcher said. "That's been my main struggle throughout my career."
Somebody asked if that was blood on his uniform.
"No," he said. "It's ketchup. I had a hamburger in the eighth inning."
Pedro Guerrero led off the sixth inning with a nubber in front of the plate that was fielded by Dravecky, who threw wildly past first baseman John Kruk, enabling Guerrero to reach second base.
Hatcher doubled him home, driving a pitch just inside the first-base bag and down the line and reaching second with a diving slide that delighted the crowd.
After Garner was intentionally walked, the runners were moving as Scioscia grounded to second base. Scioscia was thrown out easily, but Hatcher, who never slowed down, beat Kruk's throw to the plate.
Mike Scioscia flew all night to attend his grandmother's funeral in Morton, Pa. He will rejoin the Dodgers in time for Friday night's game at Pittsburgh. . . . Former Dodger vice president Al Campanis was a guest of Dodger owner Peter O'Malley at Tuesday night's game. It was the first Dodger game Campanis had attended since he was fired in the first week of the season. . . . Padre catcher Benito Santiago, who left Monday night's game after being hit by a pitch, has a bruise on his left elbow and did not play Tuesday night. He said he expects to return to the lineup tonight. . . . Tonight's game starts at 7 and will be followed by a fireworks show.