Guerrero is hitting .326 and is tied with Mike Marshall for the club's RBI lead with 26. Before his sixth-inning ejection, Guerrero had gone 0 for 2 against Cone. But he wasn't alone. At that point, the Dodgers had only two hits and only one scoring chance to speak of against the Met pitcher, who is now 6-0.
After Jeff Hamilton ran for Guerrero, John Shelby doubled to center field, moving Hamilton to third. Hamilton scored and Shelby went to third on Cone's wild pitch. Shelby scored the Dodgers' second run on Franklin Stubb's sacrifice fly to deep right.
But the Dodgers (22-17) would never get any closer than 5-2. The offense had a 15-inning scoreless streak before the sixth and have totaled just 4 runs in the Met series.
A far greater concern than the Dodgers' offense, which fades in and out like poor radio reception, is the steady decline of Valenzuela, now 3-5 with a 3.94 earned-run average.
Sunday's outing was the worst, in terms of length and performance, in his eight seasons in the major leagues. His earliest departure before this was 2 innings in 1983 against Houston. He gave up six runs in that outing.
This time, though, Lasorda wouldn't even let Valenzuela make it out of the second inning.
After Keith Hernandez knocked in Mookie Wilson for the game's first run, Darryl Strawberry launched a home run to deep center for a 3-0 Met lead. When the inning finally ended three batters later, Valenzuela was booed leaving the field.
In the second inning, Hernandez and Strawberry each produced run-scoring singles, giving the Mets a 5-0 lead. Lasorda had seen enough and called on his bullpen, which shut out the Mets over the final 7 innings.
"I didn't want him to pitch anymore," Lasorda said. "When he doesn't have his stuff, what's the sense in letting him go on."
Pitching coach Ron Perranoski had detected a flaw in Valenzuela's delivery while viewing videotapes with Valenzuela between starts. Valenzuela had kept his right leg straight while planting, affecting his follow-through.
The Dodgers were hoping that correction would make a difference. But with every poor outing, new theories emerge about Valenzuela's struggles. Some have wondered whether Valenzuela should wear his glasses while pitching as well as hitting, and Valenzuela will not say to what extent the recent news of his father's serious illness has affected his pitching.
A lingering question from last season is the condition of Valenzuela's arm.
"Am I satisfied he's healthy?" Lasorda said, repeating a reporter's question. "You'll have to ask him."
Valenzuela had left the clubhouse before reporters entered and was unavailable for comment.
So, the Dodgers will slink off to Philadelphia today to begin a nine-game trip without Griffin, possibly without the services of Guerrero for an undetermined length and with their erstwhile ace pitcher having lost his dominance.