SAN FRANCISCO — Motivation certainly was not a problem here Wednesday night when those noted rivals, the Dodgers and the San Francisco Giants, went at it again at Candlestick Park.
The main story line revolved around the Dodgers' attempt, if not to ruin the Giants' National League West title chances, at least to make them squirm some by completing a three-game sweep.
An intriguing subplot was the pitching battle between the Giants' Rick Reuschel and the Dodgers' Orel Hershiser, who ranked second and third in the NL's earned-run averages and are top Cy Young Award contenders.
After it had all unfolded on a chilly night by the Bay, the Giants emerged with a wild 9-8 win over the Dodgers, but neither starting pitcher distinguished himself in this showdown that turned out to be a dual shelling.
The Giants' come-from-behind win, which broke a four-game losing streak, reduced their magic number for winning the West to 4 games. San Francisco has a 7 1/2-game lead over Cincinnati with 10 to play. The Dodgers (66-86) had a modest three-game winning streak broken and were denied the satisfaction of sweeping their rivals.
While Reuschel was yanked after giving up 4 runs in 1 innings, Hershiser tried to muddle through on an off night. But he couldn't quite make it. And when the fall came, Hershiser fell hard.
Hershiser took a 6-4 lead into the seventh inning before Kevin Mitchell forced his departure with a single, scoring two runs for a 6-6 tie. On came reliever Brad Havens, who gave up a double to Will Clark, scoring Mitchell with the go-ahead run.
The Giants' rally rolled on against Havens and Tim Crews. By the time the prolonged seventh finally ended, San Francisco had racked up five runs on five hits and sent 10 batters to the plate.
Don Robinson, the sixth Giant pitcher, gave up a run in the eighth on a Mike Marshall single, cutting the Giants' lead to two runs.
Mike Scioscia led off the ninth with a home run to right, making it 9-8.
Reuschel's quick exit swelled his ERA to 2.78, keeping Houston's Nolan Ryan in the ERA lead at 2.63. Hershiser (16-14) gave up 6 earned runs in 6 innings, raising his ERA to 2.86--third best in the league.
So, for one night at least, both Cy Young Award aspirants had their bids soiled by mediocre performances.
Hershiser gave up three runs in the second, then settled down and worked three scoreless innings until giving up an unearned run in the sixth, which narrowed the Dodger lead to 5-4.
The Dodgers' rally began with John Shelby's single to right and Scioscia's double off the glove of Giant third baseman Mitchell. Glenn Hoffman then delivered a single to center, scoring both runners. Reuschel's ineffectiveness continued when he walked Phil Garner. Hershiser then bunted the runners along, and Steve Sax drove in both with a single to right. It extended Sax's hitting streak to 18 games. One out and a Pedro Guerrero single later, Reuschel was gone. Kelly Downs finally ended the inning by striking out Marshall. Although Hershiser says he isn't openly campaigning for the Cy Young Award, he has thought about it.
"If you have the year Hershiser is having with the team that leads the league in errors--and I'm not criticizing my own team--that really shows a pitcher's value," Dodger Manager Tom Lasorda said. "Reuschel is good, got good numbers. But the Giants have other guys who have contributed as much."
Said Hershiser: "I'm not one to go on the campaign trail. But if any honest baseball person looks at the stats, I have to have a chance.
"In past years, the Cy Young winner usually came from division-winning clubs. This year, the division winners don't have a dominating pitcher, except now that Reuschel is with the Giants. I'm up there in all the categories."
Of those categories, Hershiser rates a pitcher's ERA as the most accurate gauge of performance.
"The win column is very tough to predict whether it's because of a good pitcher or a good club," Hershiser said.
"The ERA column definitely says this guy is a good pitcher. But it also relates to the defense behind you and sometimes the offense. Like, if your offense gets you a big lead, you feel more comfortable about giving up a run to get an out. . . .
"Innings pitched and complete games are a sign of consistency, and I'm up there in both (categories). You have to be there and be effective all season to lead in that. Strikeouts is kind of a Hollywood statistic. The guys who get a lot of strikeouts get attention, but pitchers can pitch good games without a lot of strikeouts."
Dodger Notes Figure on recently acquired Mike Sharperson making his Dodger debut either Saturday or Sunday against the San Diego Padres. Sharperson had not played in nearly three weeks before Monday's trade with the Toronto Blue Jays, and Manager Tom Lasorda said the infielder needs a few days for acclimation. "I'm going to give him a few days to get ready," Lasorda said. "But I can't give him too many, because in 10 days the season's over."