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Dodger Bullpen Gets No Rescue This Time, 7-4 : Baseball: After getting off the hook Monday night, L.A. loses to the Mets.

July 20, 1994|MARYANN HUDSON | TIMES STAFF WRITER

NEW YORK — There was no need to wonder what was going through Manager Tom Lasorda's mind Tuesday night as he watched his bullpen blow another lead. Nineteen times this season he has endured it, and it is clear the frustration is reaching epic proportions.

The Dodgers, ahead by 4-2, gave up five runs in the eighth inning and lost, 7-4, to the New York Mets, who blew through three relievers on their way to victory.

Lost in the loss was another solid performance by Tim Wallach, who went four for five, increasing his batting average to .452 during his eight-game hitting streak. Also overshadowed was a two-run home run by Delino DeShields, his first as a Dodger.

About the only thing the Dodgers didn't lose was any of their three-game lead in the National League West.

"Guys are playing hard, guys are trying, but the only way you get out of this is by fighting and scratching and doing anything you can to get a win, not pointing out what guys are doing wrong," said Wallach, who beat out three infield hits. "If you give up, you might as well go home."

Lasorda went home, leaving the clubhouse about as early as anyone can remember, but not because he has given up. There simply isn't much he can do. His bullpen has blown 19 save opportunities, saving only 17 games--the fewest in the league.

After Monday night's debacle, when Todd Worrell blew a three-run lead in the ninth inning but the Dodgers came back to win in the 10th, Lasorda was upset. Nobody said as much, but it was clear that Jim Gott, who recently returned from the disabled list, had suddenly become the leading candidate to take Worrell's place.

When Gott (5-3) relieved started Kevin Gross to pitch the eighth inning Tuesday night, the stakes were clear--do well, and you might become the closer. But Gott faltered, giving up three runs, then Omar Daal and Roger McDowell each gave up another one.

"So much has been made of the the failure of the conglomerate group of the six or seven ofus that are down there, we are aware of it," McDowell said. "The only way you can come outof it is to go out and be successful. It seems like, up to this point, things haven't gone to the successful side on the whole. That's something you want to stop somewhere, somehow."

After the Dodgers' horrendous trip in early June, when the bullpen blew three games, its fortunes appeared to be turning around. Worrell had five consecutive saves, and the addition of Ismael Valdes was also successful.

"The turnaround was basically using the one guy, which was Todd," said McDowell, who has made three appearances this month. "What we have to do is collectively turn it around. . . . Sometimes it makes it difficult to be effective (when you don't pitch often), but it really doesn't matter. If you take advantage of the opportunity and are successful, then you get more opportunities.

"We have people down there who have had success in the past and can be successful again."

That former success is what Dodger executive Fred Claire has been counting on, and beforeTuesday's game, he made it clear that he still believes in the bullpen.

"There aren't that many pitchers who have much better stuff than a Jim Gott or a Todd Worrell," Claire said.

Claire once again denied trade rumors, saying that trading for a premium closer, such as the Chicago Cubs' Randy Myers, would mean giving up a couple of top prospects. Division race or not, he said he refuses to budge with young premium players.

Asked how he would feel about Gott becoming the closer, he declined to give Worrell a vote of confidence, instead deferring to Lasorda and pitching coach Ron Perranoski, saying they determine the roles, he simply gives them the 11 pitchers to work with.

Nobody has to remind Lasorda of that.

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