PHILADELPHIA — apparent tying run had crossed home plate and headed into the home dugout. The potential winning run had easily meandered to second base and even entertained thoughts of taking third.
All Dodger reliever Jesse Orosco could do was kick the dirt around the pitching mound after failing to protect the Dodgers' 2-1 lead over the Philadelphia Phillies in the bottom of the 12th inning of a game that began late Tuesday night with a rain delay and carried over into Wednesday morning.
Or so it appeared.
Then, with a single wave of plate umpire Randy Marsh's arm, the bottom of the 12th inning was put into rewind. The run that Milt Thompson had "scored" on Luis Aguayo's squeeze bunt was erased because Aguayo had been called out for interference running to first base.
Given that reprieve, Orosco hit Phil Bradley with a pitch, but then struck out Juan Samuel to give the Dodgers a 2-1 victory.
It was Orosco's fourth save, coming after two straight lost opportunities, but an asterisk should be attached.
After Rick Dempsey had scored the Dodgers' go-ahead run in the top of the 12th on Mike Davis' RBI single, Alejandro Pena gave up a leadoff double to Thompson. Orosco was then summoned, and after a sacrifice, he faced pinch-hitter Aguayo with one out.
Aguayo laid down a squeeze bunt in front of the mound, Thompson easily crossing the plate. Orosco's throw hit Aguayo on the helmet. The ball rolled into right field, and Aguayo easily advanced to second.
But Marsh then ruled that Aguayo had interfered with the throw by running inside the base line. He motioned for Thompson to return to third and waved Aguayo off the field. Replays showed that Aguayo's left foot clearly was on the inside of the basepath--in fair territory.
Lee Elia, the Phillies' manager, strongly protested, to no avail.
"Any time the batter running between home and first interferes with a throw, no runs can score," Marsh said. "Lee actually sold his own case. Lee said (Aguayo) was straddling the line, and you can't do that. If you run with both feet on the line, that's OK. But the left side of his body was (in fair territory)."
So, a 3-hour 46-minute game, preceded by a 1-hour 21-minute rain delay, ended in unusual fashion. But the Dodgers, who had lost 5 of their previous 6 games and also lost slugger Pedro Guerrero to a 4-day suspension earlier Tuesday, will take it.
"When, in baseball, have you ever seen a team win on a play like that," Dodger Manager Tom Lasorda said. "Here's a situation with the tying run in and a guy on second base with one out. Then the next thing you know, they're down by a run with two out and a guy on third."
Lasorda, actually, wasn't around to see it. He had been ejected by Marsh for arguing what he thought was an interference play in the seventh inning, when the Phillies scored their only run off Dodger starter Orel Hershiser.
Dave Anderson quickly tied the score in the eighth with a home run to left field off reliever Steve Bedrosian, who replaced left-hander Bruce Ruffin.
In the 10th, John Shelby's defensive play kept the Phillies from winning it. Samuel singled to center off reliever Jay Howell, and Mike Young was sent home from second base. But Shelby made a one-bounce throw that easily nailed Young.
Alfredo Griffin, who broke a bone in his right hand Saturday night when he was hit by a Dwight Gooden fastball, will be examined by a hand specialist again today. But according to Charlie Strasser, the Dodgers' assistant trainer, surgery no longer is an option. Strasser said Griffin's hand was placed in a half-hard, half-soft cast and that Dr. Charles Ashworth said the bones were in proper alignment.