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For Once, Dodgers Drive Phillies Batty

Baseball: Karros and Mondesi homer. Kirby catch helps Worrell save it in the ninth, 8-5.

August 23, 1996|CHRIS BAKER | TIMES STAFF WRITER

Hitting coach Reggie Smith gathered first baseman Eric Karros and several other Dodgers in the video room before Thursday night's game against the Philadelphia Phillies.

Whatever they saw must have helped shake the Dodgers out of one of their worst slumps of the season.

Karros crushed a two-run first-inning home run and Raul Mondesi had a two-run fifth-inning homer as the Dodgers, who had scored only one run in their previous 20 innings, defeated the Phillies, 8-5, before 29,608 at Dodger Stadium.

The Dodgers, who went into the game ranked last in the National League with a .250 batting average, had 11 hits, including a sixth-inning triple by third baseman Tim Wallach and a fourth-inning double by second baseman Delino DeShields, who had only two hits in 15 at-bats in the first five games of the home stand.

"We're a better hitting team than that," Dodger Manager Bill Russell said. "We're very fortunate to be where we are, and that's to the credit of our pitching staff. It's been tough for us."

Mondesi drove in three runs and shortstop Greg Gagne, who hadn't had a hit all season against the Phillies, drove in two runs with a single and a sacrifice fly as the Dodgers built an 8-0 lead.

The Dodgers ended a three-game losing streak and moved within two games of the idle San Diego Padres in the NL West.

Closer Todd Worrell entered the game with the bases loaded in the ninth and picked up his 32nd save to tie the single-season team record he set last year. Worrell got an assist from center fielder Wayne Kirby, who made a leaping catch at the wall to take a bases-loaded, extra-base hit away from rookie Scott Rolen, who had two homers Wednesday night.

"I had no choice but to put on the burners and get back to a spot," Kirby said of his catch. "I knew I was getting close to the wall so I had to time it. It's a good thing I caught it."

Pedro Astacio (8-7), whose slow delivery used to put fans to sleep, has developed into one of the Dodgers' most consistent pitchers after changing his mechanics.

Astacio, who had to battle to become the Dodgers' fifth starter in spring training, extended his winning streak to a career-high four games, giving up three runs on eight hits with three strikeouts and three walks in 7 1/3 innings.

Astacio, who has won five of his last six decisions, no-hit the Phillies for 4 2/3 innings before giving up singles to Kevin Stocker and pitcher Mike Williams with two outs in the fifth inning.

"After the Colorado trip, he's been one of our best pitchers," Russell said. "He sped up his delivery and changed his breathing. He sped up his rhythm on the mound and it's really worked for him.

"He used to work so slow, but you've got to get some sort of rhythm going, some sort of continuity."

Astacio has also developed a good curve.

"He only had a fastball and a changeup and now he's throwing a curve because he has more confidence in his breaking ball," Russell said.

Astacio, who has given up only 20 earned run in his last nine starts, shut out the Phillies for the first seven innings before giving up three runs on three consecutive extra-base hits in the eighth.

After Jim Eisenreich, who has hit .433 against the Dodgers this season, doubled in Todd Zeile, Benito Santiago crushed a two-run homer halfway into the left-field bleachers to chase Astacio.

Smith said the Dodgers went into a slump because they had been facing good pitchers.

"I don't need to look at the tapes to see what's going on," Smith said before the game. "I'm here and I'm charting each pitch, so I have a hard copy of what's going on. You don't like it, but we've been through it before and you hope it turns itself around really soon."

The Dodgers turned it around in the first inning against Williams (4-12). They got more hits (three) in one inning than they had in nine innings against the Phillies on Wednesday night.

Karros drilled a 1-0 pitch into the left-field bleachers for his 27th homer of the season.

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