The way the Dodgers started out Saturday night, you would have thought they were going to storm to victory. Before most of the 38,767 spectators had settled into their seats at Dodger Stadium, Henry Rodriguez had hit a three-run homer to give the Dodgers a three-run lead against the St. Louis Cardinals.
But what followed would cause baseball purists to go home mumbling, grumbling and shaking their heads. The Dodgers, failing to use their heads, stormed the bases all right--right into a defeat.
The next time the Dodgers looked up, there was reliever Lee Smith, looking for his 43rd save. In the Cardinal dugout, there was starter Bob Tewksbury (14-8), looking to Smith to preserve the team's 4-3 victory. And when Smith did, a worn-out Manager Tom Lasorda got up off the Dodger bench and walked a long walk into a losing clubhouse.
"We take two steps forward and two steps back," said Roger McDowell, who pitched two hitless innings in relief of Ramon Martinez (9-9). "We gain ground as far as respect, then we turn around and give that ground away."
Martinez, coming off his best start of the season, fought through seven innings, and that he lasted that long was in itself a feat.
"I didn't pitch that badly," said Martinez, who gave up four runs and nine hits. 'We had a chance to score, but we didn't, but it's OK."
Through four innings, the Dodgers had eight hits and a 3-2 lead, but the score shouldn't have been that close. A mental lapse by Martinez and a baserunning blunder helped the Cardinals score at least one of those runs and held the Dodgers to three.
The Cardinals came back in the fifth inning with three consecutive hits, including a double into the right-field corner by Gregg Jefferies that scored the tying run. Todd Zeile's fielder's choice put the Cardinals ahead, 4-3, but they might have fared better also if Jefferies hadn't tried to take third base on Zeile's bouncer to Jose Offerman.
The Dodgers jumped on Tewksbury early, with Brett Butler and Jody Reed, who each were two for three, hitting consecutive singles in the first inning before Rodriguez drove them in with his fifth home run, this one into the right-field pavilion. The Cardinals came back in the second inning and scored two runs, but one was helped by Martinez, who mishandled a comebacker by Tewksbury. Martinez allowed Mark Whiten, who was on third base, to stay in a rundown long enough for Tom Pagnozzi, who was on first, and Tewksbury to advance to second and third. Pagnozzi scored when Bernard Gilkey followed with a single.
"I was kind of confused," Martinez said.
Tewksbury held off a Dodger threat the next inning by demonstrating how to handle the play Martinez blew. Butler and Reed hit consecutive singles in the third inning and advanced to second and third on a sacrifice by Offerman. When Eric Karros followed with a bouncer back to the mound, Tewksbury charged Butler, then tossed the ball to Zeile at third, who tagged Butler and threw out a sliding Karros at second base.
And the Dodgers didn't do much better the next inning, wasting a three-hit effort when Cory Snyder was thrown out at the plate trying to score from second on a single to short left field by Martinez. It wasn't even close.
"I messed up," said third-base coach Joey Amalfitano, who had sent Snyder home.