PITTSBURGH — The Dodgers stood in the bitter cold for three hours Sunday afternoon and wondered if they stepped into an experimental weather depot.
It snowed. It rained. It sleeted. It was 42 degrees at game time and was dropping quickly into the 30s.
Yet once the final out was recorded in their 14-5 victory over the Pittsburgh Pirates, instead of sprinting off the field into the warmth of their clubhouse, the Dodgers slowly trudged off the field, savoring every last moment.
Who can blame them?
The Dodgers had the time of their lives in this town, exploiting the Pirate pitching staff and finally shedding their hitting slump in their biggest offensive onslaught in a victory in two years. The last time they scored this many runs in a victory was May 6, 1995, in a 17-11 triumph over the Colorado Rockies at Coors Field.
"Maybe we should play in cold weather more often," Dodger outfielder Wayne Kirby said. "Maybe we're just a cold-weather team."
The Dodgers, who left the friendly confines of home having scored only nine runs in their last 38 innings, had three hours of batting practice against the Pirates in front of 14,885 at Three Rivers Stadium. They provided Hideo Nomo (2-0) with such an easy victory that he pitched only five innings while the Dodgers cleared their bench.
It became such a rout that by the top of the third inning:
--The Dodgers had a 12-1 lead and had scored three runs more than they had in their entire three-game, 38-inning series against the New York Mets.
--Left fielder Todd Hollandsworth was two for two, scoring two runs with four RBIs and his first home run against a left-handed pitcher in his career.
--First baseman Eric Karros, who went into the game batting .211, had two hits, two runs and an RBI en route to a four-for-four, three-RBI performance that raised his batting average to .286.
--Catcher Tom Prince, subbing for injured Mike Piazza, was two for two with two RBIs and wound up tying his career high with three hits.
"I figure the problem with the offense is me," said Piazza, who was sidelined with a bruised elbow and is expected to return to the lineup Tuesday. "I'm a little worried now. What if I can't make the team? Maybe they can trade me and get a few good prospects for me."
The Dodgers can't quite explain just what triggered this offensive outburst in Pittsburgh, but once Piazza got hit in the left elbow Friday night and departed in the second inning, the team has undergone a complete metamorphosis.
The Dodgers, who went into Pittsburgh batting only .212 with 28 runs in nine games, have hit .382 since Piazza's departure, scoring 21 runs in 16 innings. In the third inning alone, they scored nine runs--one shy of the franchise record--with nine batters reaching base.
"You never know when it's going to happen," Dodger Manager Bill Russell said, "but that's what this team is capable of doing. It's just a matter of time with the guys we put out there. We were due."
Certainly, nothing was more pleasing to the Dodgers this day than Karros, whom they kept waiting to break out of his offensive funk. Going into the game, Karros had only one extra-base hit, two RBIs and two runs.
"I know his shoulder's been bothering him," Russell said, "but today was the first day I noticed that he was really driving the ball well in BP [batting practice]. I knew that was a good sign. It was even better when I saw him do it in the game."
Karros, batting cleanup in place of Piazza, had two doubles among his four hits and generated more offense in one day than he had the previous two weeks.
"I had the opportunities today, that's all," said Karros, who signed a four-year, $20 million contract in the off-season. "I came up three times with guys in scoring position, and that hasn't happened to me all year. I would much rather hit with guys in scoring position.
"That's why I'm getting paid what I'm paid."