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Spoil Sports: Dodgers Beat Braves in Ninth : Baseball: Butler's fielder's choice helps Pedro Martinez to his 10th victory, 2-1. Hansen ties pinch-hit mark.


With his fallen star nowhere in site, Dodger Manager Tom Lasorda closed the clubhouse doors before Monday's game to talk with his players about a couple of matters: Darryl Strawberry and the Atlanta Braves.

Lasorda told the players all he knew about Strawberry's alleged assault on his girlfriend, which wasn't much. At the time, Lasorda didn't even know why Strawberry hadn't reported to Dodger Stadium.

Then, turning to the task at hand, he told his players that the whole world would be watching how they played the Braves during the three-game series, so they needed to play to the best of their ability. They responded, winning, 2-1.

"I told them that I don't want anybody ever accusing us of helping anybody else," Lasorda said.

As if the Dodgers would ever purposely help the San Francisco Giants.

The Dodgers got their comeback victory on a bases-loaded fielder's choice grounder by Brett Butler in the ninth inning.

"Our adrenaline was going and flowing whether we had something to gain or lose," said Butler, who broke a 1-1 tie that was created in the seventh inning on Dave Hansen's record-tying 17th pinch-hit single.

Trailing the Giants by 18 1/2 games in the National League West, the Dodgers' role is that of a spoiler.

Their victory dropped the Braves to 3 1/2 games behind the Giants.

"I came out throwing my hard knuckleball and getting it in the zone and the team made great defensive plays all night," said Tom Candiotti, who left a 1-0 game for Hansen after giving up five hits and striking out six in seven innings.

"But John Smoltz did the same and kept the team in the game and gave them a chance to win, you have to tip your cap to him."

Candiotti was relieved by Pedro Martinez (10-3), who struck out four and held the Braves to one hit in two innings.

Smoltz (13-10) was relieved by Mark Wohlers in the ninth inning after Henry Rodriguez led off with a double to right field and Cory Snyder walked on four consecutive pitches.

"It's been a tough year for me," Smoltz said. "I find sometimes I can't pitch any better, but the results aren't there."

Jody Reed, facing Wohlers, laid down a bunt that Wohlers had no play on, loading the bases.

After Lenny Harris' grounder forced Raul Mondesi, running for Rodriguez, at the plate, Wohlers went 2-and-0 to Butler before trying to jam him. But Butler hit a bouncer to shortstop Jeff Blauser, who came a long way for the ball and had no play at the plate.

"I think Wohlers was pitching me away to hit the weak fly ball and then with a 1-0 count I think they thought the squeeze might be on so they pitched me away again," Butler said.

"But Tommy is a hunch man, and he didn't put (the squeeze) on."

A key play came in the top of the seventh inning, when second baseman Reed tagged Smoltz on his way to second for one out and tumbled over him to make the throw to first baseman Eric Karros for a bases loaded, inning-ending double play.

Reed returned to a standing ovation from his teammates and the crowd of 35,636. But Hansen stole some glory in the bottom of the inning, driving a 3-and-1 pitch by Smoltz through the hole at short to score Cory Snyder from third.

Hansen tied the Dodgers' single season record for pinch-hits, set last season by Mitch Webster. Someone asked Hansen if he would like to give up thoughts of playing every day.

"No way, Jose," he said. "I never want to lose sight of my goal."


STRAWBERRY: If Darryl Strawberry is convicted of assaulting his girlfriend, the club will sever ties with him. C4

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