He didn't make it through the fifth inning. He didn't get a victory. He gave up five hits and two runs and then left the game with one out and two runners on.
But in a box on the club level behind home plate, Dodger Vice President Fred Claire was smiling. Next to him, Dodger team doctor Frank Jobe was smiling.
And later Tuesday night, maybe when no one was looking too close, maybe even John Tudor was smiling. Not like a star, but like a survivor, which for now must be good enough.
Pitching for the first time since walking off the mound in pain in Game 3 of the 1988 World Series, Tudor didn't allow a hit to the first 12 San Diego Padres batters before running out of gas. He eventually surrendered two runs on five hits in 4 1/3 innings in a game that was tied, 3-3, in the 15th inning.
After the Padres had taken a 3-2 lead on Tim Flannery's pinch RBI single in the top of the 13th, John Shelby got things starter against new Padre pitcher Mark Grant in the bottom of the inning with a single up the middle. Jeff Hamilton bunted Shelby to second, and Jose Gonzalez walked. Pat Clements relieved Grant and promptly threw a wild pitch that moved the runners to second and third. From there, all it took was a broken bat grounder by pinch-hitter Mike Davis to score Shelby with the tying run. Anderson walked and took second uncontested. The inning ended, however, when Alfredo Griffin grounded to second with runners on second and third.. It was all so typical. After Tudor left, the game became a match of lost wits.
In the five innings after Tudor, Dodger relievers Alejandro Pena, Jay Howell and John Wetteland combined to strike out 11 of the 17 Padres hitters they faced. Pena struck out two in the sixth and struck out the side in the seventh. Howell struck out three in two innings of work, and then Wetteland struck out the side in the 10th.
The Padres actually had a threat in the 11th, when they put runners on second and third with two out after Wetteland had advanced them by throwing a pitch so wild, it bounced off the ground and then off catcher Rick Dempsey's mask and ended up back near the mound. But Wetteland exonerated himself and ended the inning by getting Mark Parent into a flyout.
Meanwhile, after the Dodgers had tied the game with a run in the sixth and seventh on RBI singles by Mickey Hatcher and Alfredo Griffin, they also messed up offensively. They had runners on first and third with two out in the ninth and could have won it, but Rick Dempsey hit a line drive directly at third baseman Luis Salazar for the third out.
Then they put two runners on base against reliever Greg Harris in the 11th, only to have 19-save man Mark Davis enter the game and get Alfredo Griffin on a flyout to left to end it.
Claire was pleased with Tudor's effort.
"He pitched very well, I'm pleased with what I saw," Claire said of the pitcher who was just eight months removed from extensive shoulder and elbow surgery. "We'll see how he responds to this, and go from there."
When Claire was asked if he was surprised by Tudor's good outing, his smile disappeared.
"No, it's not unbelievable," Claire said. "That's what John is all about. That's what he asks of himself. That's what he expects."
Added Dr. Jobe: "Usually something like this takes at least a year. I'm very happy. John has worked very hard."
Trailing 2-0 after Tudor had thrown 72 pitches and departed, the Dodger offense took it from there. Against Bruce Hurst, who brought a 19 consecutive scoreless inning streak into the game, they scored one in the sixth and another in the seventh to tie it.
In the sixth, Willie Randolph led off with a single but was forced at second on a Gibson grounder. Eddie Murray's bouncer to first baseman Jack Clark moved Gibson to second, where he scored on Mickey Hatcher's single to right. That hit was Hatcher's sixth in his last 12 at-bats.
Another hot hitter delivered for the Dodgers in the seventh, after Gonzalez started things by beating out an grounder to second base by sliding into first.
After Gonzalez's leadoff hit, Mike Scioscia bunted him to second. Pinch-hitter Dave Anderson then struck out, something pinch-hitter Mariano Duncan had done two innings earlier with Dodgers on first and second.
But with two out, up stepped Griffin, who entered the game with 31 hits in his last 85 at-bats (.365) to improve his average to a season-high .272. And he didn't disappoint. He lined a one-strike Hurst pitch into left field for a single that scored Gonzalez with the tying run, with Griffin taking second on Chris James' weak throw to the plate. Randolph then drew a walk, setting up Gibson for some now-expected heroics.
But it just doesn't happen every time. Gibson swung at Hurst's first pitch and hit hit hard, but high, and center-fielder Shawn Abner was able to find it about 300 feet from home plate to end the inning.