SAN FRANCISCO — The Dodgers emerged from the visiting clubhouse early Saturday afternoon and, to their astonishment, found that the sun actually had made an appearance for the first time in almost a week.
After four consecutive rainouts, the Dodgers not only were well rested but also restless to play a game. They didn't even need a brief reintroduction to the sport, pounding the San Francisco Giants, 10-3, behind Mike Marshall's grand slam and Alfredo Griffin's three-run triple.
If the Dodgers had any rustiness caused by the rainouts, it was not apparent on this sunny day. Orel Hershiser, working on seven days' rest, allowed one run in six innings to improve his record to 4-0. His earned-run average increased slightly from 1.03 to 1.11.
"Hey, this would be a good rotation for me," said Hershiser, subjected to derisive chants from some in the crowd of 33,271 at Candlestick Park: "Pitch once every eight days."
Even after such an impressive return, following the forced hiatus, Dodger players said that it somehow didn't feel right to be back at work.
"You do come back strong after that time off," Griffin said. "But you don't have timing. We score 10 runs today. Why not let's take a couple more days off before playing again."
Why not, indeed. The Dodgers (10-4) benefited from this two-games-a-week formula, winning both and forging ahead of the Houston Astros into first place in the National League West. The time off also enabled two injured regulars--Kirk Gibson and Steve Sax--to return.
While the Dodgers seemingly made all the right moves Saturday--"You guys (reporters) haven't been able to second-guess me all week because of the rainouts," Manager Tom Lasorda chortled--Giant decision-makers had a bad day.
It began even before the first pitch, when a vote of Dodger players overturned the Giants' plans for making up Friday night's rainout on Monday night--originally a day off for the teams. Since teams are not required to come to the ballpark for more than 20 consecutive days, the Dodgers could--and did--veto the plans of Giant General Manager Al Rosen. The game will be made up as part of a doubleheader in July.
"It's difficult for me to understand why a team that had four days off can invoke the 20-day rule," an indignant Rosen said. "Seems to me they would want to go back to work."
The Dodgers' return to action Saturday was made easier by a few questionable decisions by Giant Manager Roger Craig, who saw each backfire.
With the Giants trailing, 6-3, in the ninth inning and only first base open, Craig chose to have pitcher Atlee Hammaker intentionally walk Pedro Guerrero, bringing up Marshall against right-hander Don Robinson.
A year ago this week, Craig made the same move in an extra-inning game at Candlestick Park, and Marshall hit a game-winning three-run home run. That night, Marshall punctuated the blast by pointing a finger at Craig.
Second-guessers were the only ones pointing at Craig Saturday. Marshall powered an inside fastball over the left-field fence to crush any Giant comeback hopes. It was Marshall's first home run this season and his sixth career grand slam.
"I don't blame any manager for walking Pete," Marshall said. "He's one of the top five hitters in the National League. It's important that I do the job, because batting in the fifth slot is important on this team. The most important thing is that, next time, maybe Pete will get to hit."
Regardless of the result, Craig said his decision was logical.
"Ninety percent of the people in this room would have made that move," Craig said. "Guerrero was hitting .460 off Hammaker, and I'd rather have a right-hander like Marshall hit against Robinson. Give the guy (Marshall) credit."
Before that, though, Craig may have been guilty of another error in judgment. He let starter Mike Krukow try to pitch out of a seventh-inning jam in what had been a 1-1 tie.
Krukow walked Marshall, who went to second on Mike Davis' ground-out. After Mike Devereaux flied to right field for the second out, Krukow walked hot-hitting Mike Scioscia and pinch-hitter Danny Heep, loading the bases. Up came Sax, who bunted down the third-base line, surprising Giant fielders and Marshall. Marshall scored, and Sax beat out the bunt without drawing a throw to first, giving the Dodgers a 2-1 lead.
"I thought about it in the on-deck circle, and I was hoping not to give it away," Sax said.
Craig stayed with Krukow against Alfredo Griffin, hitting .210 going into that at-bat. But Griffin slashed a very high, very inside fastball down the right-field line for a triple, giving the Dodgers a 5-1 lead. Although Griffin has only 13 hits this season, he leads the Dodgers with 13 runs batted in.
"I hope it'll be like that all season," Griffin said, referring to his hits-to-RBIs ratio. "Then, you can call me a money player."
More impressive than the Dodger hitting, which has been dormant most of the season, has been the success of the pitching staff.