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Dodgers Truly a Grass Act : Baseball: In attempt to break out of slump on artificial turf, they line dugout with real thing and beat Pirates, 7-2, for 10th consecutive victory.

May 29, 1993|TIM KAWAKAMI | TIMES STAFF WRITER

PITTSBURGH — The Dodger victory parade, previously limited to a West Coast engagement, bounced its way east and, contrary to recent tradition, actually gained momentum.

With the Dodgers' 7-2 victory over the Pittsburgh Pirates on Friday before 18,532 at Three Rivers Stadium, their winning streak hit 10, the team's longest since 1980.

And afterward, the Dodgers gave thanks to sod.

That is, they burbled about the uplifting qualities of the two yards of bluegrass bought for $10 by Orel Hershiser and other mischief-makers in a bit of pregame inspiration.

Because they were winless this season on synthetic grass, Hershiser and Co. figured, why not line the visiting dugout with the real thing?

"It was to make us feel at home," Hershiser said. "We had just won nine straight at home, so this was to somehow distract us away from our record on artificial turf."

Of course, the grass is always greener if you are on the longest winning streak in baseball.

Twelve hits, a strong, seven-inning outing by winning pitcher Pedro Astacio (3-3), and a clubhouse full of teammates with grass stains on their uniforms made Hershiser look positively brilliant.

"I don't know anybody who's got a grass dugout," said left fielder Eric Davis, who hit his fourth home run against reliever John Candelaria in the eighth inning. "History was made tonight."

The Dodgers entered the game with a rising level of confidence but also, at 7-16, the worst road record in the National League and, at 0-9, with the worst artificial turf mark in the league.

Nine consecutive victories at Dodger Stadium had done nothing to erase those statistics.

Friday's victory, opening a six-game trip, all on artificial turf, did plenty.

"It's very important for us to get this first one on the road, not because it's 10 in a row, but just because it's great for our confidence to go out and play a solid game on the road," said third baseman Tim Wallach, who continued his torrid month of May with a two-run double, bringing his month's total of runs batted in to 20.

"We hadn't played a solid game on the road in a long time. That's what made the nine consecutive at home so important. You go out on the road and you're not thinking, 'It's time to start losing.' "

The Dodgers, who have been a natural disaster on artificial turf the last two seasons, did everything that had to be done:

--They showed flashes of speed, stealing three bases in three attempts, including Davis' 31st in a row dating to last season.

--They played solid defense, turning two double plays, and their outfielders tracked down some deep fly balls.

--They produced with runners on base, tagging Pirate starter Randy Tomlin (2-5) early and his relievers late. Tomlin, suffering from an inflammation in his pitching elbow, left the game trailing, 2-0, with none out in the sixth inning.

After Jose Offerman's single up the middle scored Brett Butler in the sixth, Wallach found the left-field corner for two RBIs to key the Dodgers' four-run outburst.

Earlier, second baseman Jody Reed punched a two-out single to right in the second inning to score Mike Piazza for the first run of the game.

--They got solid pitching from Astacio, who worked out of minor jams in the second, third and seventh innings before three relievers, including Todd Worrell, who returned from an arm injury that had sidelined since the third game of the season. Astacio pitched seven scoreless innings, giving up five hits and striking out six.

And before, during and after the game, the Dodgers scampered around the field looking like they hadn't lost a game in months, which is close enough for them.

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