After losing 8 of their previous 15 games and hitting only .212 against left-handed starters entering this one, the Dodgers reaped an unexpected and unprecedented offensive harvest in the opening game of an important home stand against National League West rivals.
They pounded Cincinnati Reds starter Dennis Rasmussen and all other left-handers Red Manager Pete Rose sent out en route to a 13-5 victory Friday night before a Dodger Stadium crowd of 45,242.
"Unbelievable," Dodger Manager Tom Lasorda said. "What a night. It's about time we broke out against them (left-handers). I'm happy to see it."
And this from Rose: "No loss is more important than another one. This one was just uglier."
All 22 Dodger hits were singles, coming within one of tying the National League record for most singles in a nine-inning game, set by the 1931 New York Giants. The Dodgers' hit total also came just two short of their all-time hit record of 24, set in 1974.
The Dodgers scored 6 runs off Rasmussen in two innings, added 4 against left-handed reliever Tim Birtsas in less than two innings and one each off lefties Rob Murphy and John Franco.
Murphy faced only two batters in the sixth before leaving with tenderness in his left elbow and shoulder, and Franco had to be helped off the field after being hit below the right knee by Dave Anderson's single in the seventh. Franco was taken to a hospital for X-rays.
Having exhausted his pitching staff--or, perhaps, merely trying to spare the health of the remaining pitchers--Rose had to bring in veteran infielder Dave Concepcion to pitch in the seventh.
Concepcion, making his pitching debut after 18 seasons in the major leagues, forced Rick Dempsey to ground out to end the seventh. Bolstered by that success, Concepcion pitched a scoreless eighth, allowing only two hits.
"I guess Concepcion will be my short man tomorrow," Rose quipped.
The only other right-hander to face the Dodgers (29-20) on this night, Jose Rijo, escaped relatively unscathed. He only allowed an unearned run.
As he usually does against left-handers, Lasorda stacked his lineup with right-handed hitters. In the past, it hasn't made much of a difference, but Friday night it produced runs in abundance.
Mickey Hatcher and Steve Sax led the hit list, both going 5 for 6. Interestingly, the only pitcher who cooled off Hatcher was Concepcion, who forced the Dodger right fielder to fly to center.
"I think he scuffed the ball," Hatcher said, joking. "(Concepcion) probably used spitters, too."
Two of Hatcher's hits were bloopers, and two others were not exactly scalding liners.
"I know that," Hatcher said. "But a week from now, they'll look like line drives."
Pedro Guerrero went 3 for 4 with 3 RBIs before leaving the game in the fifth inning with renewed soreness in his neck and left upper back. Mike Marshall also had three hits, and Mike Scioscia, the only left-handed hitter other than Kirk Gibson in the lineup, added two hits and two RBIs.
So, after hitting just .212 against left-handers entering the game, the Dodgers went 13 for 22 against Rasmussen and Birtsas in the early innings alone.
The troubled night for left-handed pitchers extended beyond the Reds. Dodger starter Fernando Valenzuela continued his struggle. Valenzuela lasted 2 innings, allowing 4 runs and 5 hits.
It was the second shortest outing of Valenzuela's career. His shortest outing came in his last home start, when he was yanked after 1 innings. Tim Crews replaced Valenzuela and pitched 2 scoreless innings to earn the win, his first.
Alejandro Pena and Tim Belcher followed Crews. Belcher gave up an unearned run in the ninth, the only post-Valenzuela run the Dodgers allowed.
Lasorda said Valenzuela did not complain of an injury. "It's too bad about Fernando," Lasorda said. "It was just one of those nights."
Valenzuela, who allowed only two runs in nine innings in his most recent start last weekend in Montreal, Friday night gave up a home run to the third batter he faced, Kal Daniels.
Valenzuela, staked to a 4-1 lead, did not allow a run in the second, but the third inning was his undoing.
A single to Chris Sabo and Daniels' double down the right-field line on a 3-and-2 pitch put runners on second and third. Eric Davis also ran the count before walking to load the bases for Nick Esasky, just off the disabled list.
When Valenzuela threw two straight balls to Esasky, Crews hurriedly warmed up in the bullpen. After a third straight ball, Esasky lined Valenzuela's next pitch into center field, scoring two runs.
That prompted a visit to the mound from pitching coach Ron Perranoski, which apparently did little good. Valenzuela walked Bo Diaz on five pitches to load the bases, and Perranoski then quickly came with the hook.