NEW YORK — Mike Piazza sat on the stool in front of his locker, his hair drenched, his face red, the left side of his uniform dusted with red dirt. He had just finished catching the Dodgers' 11-8 victory against the New York Mets Thursday, a 3-hour 22-minute affair prolonged by 34 hits.
That meant that Piazza had caught 24 innings in less than 24 hours, and the Dodgers had another game to to play in about 20 minutes.
"If they need me for the next one, I'll be ready," said Piazza, who went three for five with two runs batted in, including a two-run home run, his 17th of the season.
Maybe they did need him for the second game, but Piazza was given a rest. What the Dodgers really needed was a run, the same thing they spent 11 extra innings looking for the night before. This night, though, the Dodgers got only as far as the 10th inning before Bobby Bonilla hit a towering three-run homer over the center-field fence to give the Mets a 6-3 victory.
It was a bullpen juggling act for Manager Tom Lasorda, whose team had played 39 innings in 28 hours, with 12 hours 24 minutes of actual playing time. The L.A. bullpen has pitched 17 2/3 innings in the last two days.
And when the ordeal finally ended, at 11:52 Thursday, nobody was asking any questions, such as why Lasorda walked Jeromy Burnitz to pitch to Bonilla.
"We had opportunities, we battled hard," Brett Butler said, "and we just came up short."
The Dodgers had played in sweltering heat the last three days in Philadelphia, and they were greeted with the same at Shea Stadium, where the game-time temperature at 5:10 p.m. was a humid 96 degrees. But by the start of the second game, at 9 p.m., the temperature had dropped.
It was 93 degrees.
Butler, who had played all 20 innings of the Dodgers' 6-hour 10-minute marathon Wednesday night, lasted eight innings in the first game Thursday.
How did he feel?
"Blown up," Butler said.
"Worn out," he said. "Tommy looked at me in the dugout and said, 'Just go in. Take a nap. Do something.' "
But it wasn't long in the second game before Butler was back in. Jose Offerman had aggravated a sore left hamstring, and Butler was back in center field in the third inning. Cory Snyder, who was a shortstop in the minor leagues, played shortstop for the first time this season.
After their 20-inning loss to the Phillies, the Dodgers boarded a bus for Manhattan about 2:30 in the morning and arrived at the team hotel at dawn.
"I got about five hours sleep," said Snyder, who said he woke up because he couldn't turn off his internal alarm clock. But the alarm would have gone off shortly after that anyway, because the bus for Shea left at 2:45 p.m.
All Lasorda wanted out of his starting pitchers, Kevin Gross and Tom Candiotti, was a couple of long outings. "Nine innings each, two wins, and I will walk out of here and onto the streets of New York city a happy man," Lasorda said.
Gross (7-7) gave up six runs and 12 hits in 6 2/3 innings, but the Dodgers gave Gross the runs he needed to even his record. Looking anything but tired in the first game, the Dodgers blew open a 5-4 lead in the fifth inning by scoring four runs on four hits and a walk, including a towering solo home run by Eric Karros over the Mets' trademark apple in back of the center-field fence.
The home run, Karros' ninth of the season and first in 13 games, raised the question--did the ball go over the apple or land in the apple?
"All I know is it was over the fence, that's all that counts," said Karros, who was three for five with three runs batted in and scored three runs. "It just proved the character of this club, we never let down tonight."
Candiotti, who entered the game with a 1.50 earned-run average but an 0-1 record in his last six starts, was pitching on three days' rest. He struggled early in the second game, giving up two runs in the first inning before settling in.
He went six innings, giving up five hits and throwing 103 pitches. Pedro Martinez pitched the next two innings, before the Dodgers turned to Rod Nichols for the second night in a row.
The Dodgers came back from a 3-0 deficit to tie the score in the seventh, but then they didn't capitalize on their scoring opportunities in two of the next three innings.
In the bottom of the 10th, with runners on first and second and no outs, Bonilla hit an 0-1 fastball from Nichols 400 feet over the center-field fence. And this time there was no question of whether he went over the apple.
* NATIONAL LEAGUE ROUNDUP
Barry Bonds had six runs batted in to lead the San Francisco Giants to a 13-2 rout of the Philadelphia Phillies. C4
* BASEBALL REPORT
A patch honoring the memory of Roy Campanella and Don Drysdale was added to Dodger uniforms before Thursday's doubleheader in New York. C6