A more fitting ending for the Dodgers, it seemed, could not have been scripted. On a night when pitching dominated at Dodger Stadium, Dodger pitcher Tim Leary delivered a pinch single to center field with two out in the 11th inning Saturday to lift the Dodgers to a 2-1 victory over the San Francisco Giants.
What had been shaping up as a tidy Dodger win behind the excellent pitching debut of 20-year-old Ramon Martinez turned into an extra-inning game with three Dodger ejections that either directly or indirectly affected the outcome.
Manager Tom Lasorda and Pedro Guerrero were ejected for arguing that Giant relief pitcher Joe Price had balked. On that disputed pitch, Guerrero had reached second base anyway on a passed ball. Mike Davis--the last Dodger reserve position player available--was later ejected for arguing a bunt play from the bench.
So, when the Dodgers loaded the bases with two out against Price, they had no choice but to turn to Leary, the winning pitcher Friday night and the best hitter among Dodger pitchers (.306 batting average).
Price ran the count to 3 and 2 before Leary lined his single into center, scoring Franklin Stubbs, who was pinch-running for the ejected Guerrero. As Stubbs crossed home plate, slipping, Dodger players spilled out of the dugout to mob Leary. In this important series, during which the Dodgers have maintained their 2 1/2-game lead over the second-place Houston Astros in the National League West, the count has been Leary 2, Giants 0.
And the third-place Giants trail the Dodgers by 4 1/2 games.
The rally began when Guerrero singled to right. Guerrero then went to second on a passed ball. From there, confusion reigned. Guerrero started arguing with second base umpire Joe West. Eventually, both Guerrero and Lasorda were ejected, and Stubbs ran for Guerrero.
After Marshall walked to put runners at first and second with no outs, John Shelby bunted down the third-base line. Just as the ball was rolling foul, it looked as if Price touched it, but plate umpire Paul Runge ruled otherwise. Davis was ejected for arguing from the dugout. When play resumed, Shelby moved Stubbs to third with a fly to deep right. Tracy Woodson flied to shallow center, Stubbs holding at third. Giant Manager Roger Craig then intentionally walked Alfredo Griffin.
That brought up reliever Alejandro Pena's spot in the lineup. With Davis ejected, the Dodgers were forced to use Leary. With Leary's hit, Pena was credited with the victory.
It was too bad Leary could not have come in to relieve for Martinez, who lost a possible win in his debut when reliever Jesse Orosco could not hold a 1-0 lead.
Despite the no-decision, Martinez lived up to the billing of being the Dodgers' best pitching prospect since Fernando Valenzuela.
Comparisons between the two were unavoidable, even if Martinez is right-handed and skinny as a foul pole and Valenzuela is left-handed and as round as a pitching mound. Martinez does not have a screwball, but his fastball has been clocked at over 90 m.p.h. and moves around the plate. And his changeup is deceptive.
The Giants saw first hand Saturday night. Martinez breezed through the early innings, and the Dodger defense prevented a fifth-inning run when left fielder Kirk Gibson threw out Bob Brenly at the plate. Offensively, the only support Martinez received was a run in the sixth, when Mike Marshall singled in Guerrero, who had doubled.
It appeared as if Martinez would make it hold up. Martinez had struck out 5 and allowed only 3 singles going into the eighth. He was four outs away from a possible shutout when he walked Brett Butler and yielded a well-placed hit-and-run single to Robby Thompson, moving Butler to third.
Lasorda then sent pitching coach Ron Perranoski to take out Martinez, who left amid a standing ovation. Orosco, who had struck out Clark in a similar situation Friday night, gave up a line-drive single to right, scoring Butler to tie it, 1-1, and moving Thompson to third. Jay Howell then replaced Orosco and struck out Joel Youngblood to end it.
Howell worked in and out of a self-induced jam in the ninth, Donell Nixon reaching base on an infield single and taking third on a wild pickoff throw. But Howell struck out Matt Williams, and Alfredo Griffin threw out Nixon at home on Brenly's grounder, Catcher Mike Scioscia expertly blocking the plate.
One good start does not a mania make, but it certainly is a start. And it assuredly will give Martinez a second start as the youngest member of the Dodgers' new four-man pitching rotation.
Perhaps if the Dodger offense had a more producitve night against Giant starter Mike Krukow and relievers, Martinez would have been a winner in his debut.
Krukow, making his first start since June 25, when he went on the disabled list with inflammation in his right shoulder, was as impressive as Martinez until the sixth inning.