Run deprivation can be a terrible affliction for a pitcher. Your earned-run average may remain healthy, your innings pitched may swell, but your record, and maybe attitude, can go on the critical list.
No pitcher in the Dodgers' starting rotation has suffered as much lately as Bob Welch, who had allowed only four runs in his last 21 innings before Monday night but came away with a loss and two no-decisions.
But Welch, perhaps only slightly daunted, gave it another shot Monday night against the Philadelphia Phillies, hoping that the stricken Dodger offense would somehow respond. That didn't happen, and Welch was a 4-2 loser on another night when he pitched well enough to at least make this one interesting.
Instead, it appeared as if the only suspense would be determining the extent of Phillie starter Shane Rawley's domination over the Dodgers. Rawley's shutout bid was ended in the fourth inning, when the Dodgers shocked the Dodger Stadium crowd of 38,104 by scoring a run on two hits.
Typically for Welch, not long after he left, the Dodgers rallied. They added a run in the ninth, pinch-hitter Alex Trevino singling in John Shelby, prompting Rawley's departure. Steve Bedrosian, making only his second appearance after a bout with shoulder soreness, earned his 34th save despite some late drama in a bases-loaded situation.
Other than that, the Dodgers went quietly against Rawley, who improved his National League-best record to 17-6 but was denied his fifth complete game. Rawley has a 9-0 career record against the Dodgers and has four wins against them this season.
Welch, conversely, lasted 8 innings and gave up 4 runs on 8 hits. He struck out 7 and walked 2. Welch (11-9) might not have been as dominating as in his other recent outings, but he wasn't knocked around, either.
"Of course, nobody likes the way the whole team is playing," Welch said. "But you can't think about how many runs your team scores. When I'm out there pitching, my job is to keep it tighter than 4-1, that's for sure. With a guy like Rawley pitching, you give up four runs and it's tough."
All it took was a few mistakes for Welch and the Dodgers to fall insurmountably behind. The Phillies got to Welch for a run in the first, two in the fifth and a Mike Schmidt bases-empty home run in the eighth to make it 4-1. It was the 22nd home run Schmidt has hit in Dodger Stadium, tying him with Henry Aaron for the second most by a visitor at Chavez Ravine. George Foster is the leader with 23. Rawley, however, could not close out another unproductive night for Dodger hitters. Shelby started the ninth-inning uprising with a one-out infield single, his third hit of the night. Mickey Hatcher then walked, and the right-handed hitting Trevino, batting for left-handed Franklin Stubbs, rapped a single to center.
That made it 4-2 and necessitated Bedrosian's entrance. He got pinch-hitter Ken Landreaux to hit a grounder that forced Trevino at second but moved Hatcher to third. Scioscia walked, loading the bases for pinch-hitter Danny Heep. Bedrosian ran the count to 2-and-2 before Heep lofted a soft liner that carried into shallow left. But Phillie shortstop Steve Jeltz backpedaled and made the catch to sink the Dodgers once again.
"I thought sure as hell that ball was falling in," Dodger Manager Tom Lasorda said. "I thought we had it. That guy (Jeltz) got a good jump on the ball."
At least the Dodgers scored two runs off Rawley on Monday, giving them a total of nine in his four wins against them. So desperate was Lasorda to generate some offense from his team, which has the lowest run total in the league at 501, that he put hitting coach Manny Mota back as the first-base coach for the first time since mid-July.
"It was just to change things," Lasorda said with a shrug. "I thought it might work."
No, this was a typical Dodger loss. They had decent pitching, lacked offense and also lost a player or two to injuries.
Monday night's casualty was second baseman Steve Sax, who got the first hit off Rawley with a double in the fourth, but had to come out of the game with a sore lower back after sliding into second base. Sax is listed as day-to-day and will be examined again today.
Another wounded Dodger was Pedro Guerrero, who awoke Monday morning with soreness on the outside of his left knee. Despite a noticeable limp, Guerrero was in the lineup. He went 0 for 4.
"Yeah, it's the bad leg, but it's not in the place where I had the surgery (last season)," Guerrero said. "It's either one thing or another, you know."