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Cedeno Steals Joy of Victory

Dodgers: Rookie takes second in 11-2 romp over Giants, upsetting everyone.

April 18, 1996|BOB NIGHTENGALE | TIMES STAFF WRITER

SAN FRANCISCO — Dodger starter Chan Ho Park was unable to throw strikes, let alone get outs, in the third inning Wednesday afternoon, prompting Radio Korea to leave in the middle of the game.

The heart of the Dodger lineup--Brett Butler, Mike Piazza, Eric Karros and Raul Mondesi--drove in only one run.

And Dodger rookie outfielder Roger Cedeno pulled a ninth-inning gaffe that nearly incited a bench-clearing brawl, had his own teammates upset and left him crying in the clubhouse.

So how do you explain the Dodgers' 11-2 laugher over the San Francisco Giants at Candlestick Park in front of 17,039?

"When you start figuring out this game," Dodger Manger Tom Lasorda said, "that's when you're in trouble."

The Dodgers should have been celebrating a season-high 11-run, 13-hit outburst, Piazza's first extra-base hit, Mike Blowers' two hits and two runs batted in, Delino DeShields' three hits and three RBIs, and their bullpen yielding two hits in seven scoreless innings. Instead, Cedeno's blunder stole the show.

By the fourth inning, the Dodgers had scored seven runs, six unearned after an error by second baseman Steve Scarsone. It was still 11-2 in the ninth, and everyone was ready to go home.

Then, with two outs in the top of the ninth, and Karros at the plate, Cedeno stole second, not realizing that trying to steal a base with a huge lead is a sin. It did not matter that Cedeno wasn't credited with a stolen base, only catcher's indifference. The act was too blatant for the Giants to overlook.

"You don't kick a guy when you're down," said Scarsone, who yelled at Cedeno. "Not only is that rubbing it in, it's a good way to get somebody on your own team hurt."

Cedeno then started hearing it from the rest of the Giants. Manager Dusty Baker screamed from the dugout. Third baseman Matt Williams yelled at him. Left fielder Mel Hall wanted a piece of him.

Karros, still standing at the plate, backed away, thinking that the next pitch from Doug Creek might be coming into his ribs, or even his head.

"I was shocked," Karros said. "I'm thinking, 'You've got to be kidding me?' I sure didn't like the situation, either, that I was at the plate. I was trying to figure out if I was going to go forward or go backward [anticipating a brushback pitch].

"They have every right to be upset. I'd be teed off too if I was on the other side. I'm sure they'll do something eventually to retaliate or show their displeasure."

Creek did not throw any purpose pitches, walking Karros and retiring Mondesi on a fly ball to center. Yet the moment the inning ended, Williams screamed at Cedeno again and had to be restrained by teammates, Hall yelled obscenities at Dodger first base coach Reggie Smith and Lasorda asked Cedeno what he was doing.

"That was terrible, I've never seen that since I've been in baseball," Baker said. "He told Scarsone that he was confused. I've never seen anybody that confused.

"If a guy's that confused, somebody needs to get him a manual on how to play baseball."

The Dodgers, who rushed to Cedeno's side after the game, provided him an escort off the field. They talked to Cedeno, 21, in the clubhouse, and when reporters were permitted in, Cedeno was sitting alone in front of his locker with his eyes reddened. He wasn't talking, and later dressed in the trainer's room.

"He thought I told him to go," Smith said. "I don't know what was going through his head."

The Dodgers don't play the Giants again until July, and by that time, they hope the incident is forgotten. Besides, there was too much good to come out of this game, they say, to let one meaningless play ruin their day.

Park struck out six of the first eight batters he faced, and was staked to a 4-0 lead when he took the mound in the third.

He opened the inning by walking pitcher Steve Bourgeois, who had relieved starter Mark Leiter in the top of the third. Then he walked Marvin Benard on five pitches. He walked Rich Aurilia, loading the bases for Barry Bonds. Then he walked Bonds on four pitches, forcing in a run.

Lasorda summoned Antonio Osuna, who escaped the jam, yielding one hit in three innings for the victory, and even got his first RBI on a sacrifice fly during the seven-run outburst.

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