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THE INSIDE TRACK | PAGE TWO / RANDY HARVEY

Candiotti, Dodgers Solve a Case of 'To Catch a Thief'

May 05, 1997|RANDY HARVEY

Tom Candiotti threw ball four to Chicago's Jose Hernandez in the seventh inning Sunday but still got the third out when his down-and-in fastball--no knuckler this time, thank the Big Dodger in the Sky--caught Brian McRae trying to steal home.

"I walked a guy and got out of the inning," a bemused Candiotti said after the 5-2 victory over the Cubs at Dodger Stadium. "How about that? When things go good, they go good, don't they?"

Yes, they do. The Dodgers have won five of six, all but erasing from their memories the seven-of-eight losing skid, a 14-0 loss to Atlanta, a contentious team meeting and the most discussed shower scene since "Psycho."

That, after all, was last week.

Last week.

This week.

Next week.

It's all the same to Bill Russell, who obviously wasn't undone by the first real test he has faced since replacing Tom Lasorda as the Dodger manager.

When asked what Russell did, the players had to think for a moment or two before they could think of anything.

That was the best compliment they could have given him.

"Players are like sharks to blood when there is panic among their leadership, especially the manager," closer Todd Worrell said. "He didn't want to give us any sense of that because he knew we'd panic if he did."

Russell said he's been in the game long enough to know the pennant isn't won or lost in April. (The Cubs might argue otherwise.)

"You just have to be patient," he said.

Actually, he's done more than that. Since returning to the lineup a week ago after Russell forced him to sit for two games, Wilton Guerrero is hitting .450, with two doubles and three triples. Russell also gave Todd Zeile a day off he didn't want. In his last six games, he's hitting .429 with eight RBI.

*

Sept. 9, 1965, was a significant day for the Dodgers. Zeile was born and Sandy Koufax pitched a perfect game against the Cubs. . . .

Whatever happened to tape-measure shots? Now the length of long home runs, like Mike Piazza's in the fourth-inning Sunday, is estimated by IBM. The computer said Piazza's was 440 feet. . . .

Dodger relief pitchers saw the ball sailing toward their dugout beyond the left field wall and thought it was headed for the players' parking lot. "I didn't drive today so it would have been OK with me," Worrell said. . . .

In the wake of the labor agreement, fans are warily returning to major league baseball. Attendance before last weekend was up by 2.7% over last season. . . .

The Dodgers and Angels, though, have seen their attendance decline by the largest margins in their respective leagues. . . .

Blame the schedule-maker. Both teams were hurt by playing opening homestands while the other also was at home. . . .

The Dodgers look forward to next month, when they have home games against the Angels and division rivals San Francisco, San Diego and Colorado. . . .

Count on Giant Manager Dusty Baker to stir things up with the Dodgers. He's openly pulling for himself and friend Don Baylor of the Rockies to manage their teams into the playoffs. . . .

Padre owner John Moores revealed recently he hired controversial Friend of Bill, Webster Hubbell, and acknowledges he received little work for the money he paid the former Justice Dept. official. . . .

Moores could say the same thing about Rickey Henderson. . . .

"The best trades are the ones you don't make" became a cliche because it's so often true. Ask Angel General Manager Bill Bavasi, who might have given up reliever Chuck McElroy for Henderson if Troy Percival had been healthy. . . .

There should be no question after Saturday's Kentucky Derby that Southern California is the capital of horse racing this year. . . .

The win and show horses, Silver Charm and Free House, campaigned at Santa Anita, and runner-up Captain Bodgit is owned by a syndicate headed by Pasadena's Barry Irwin. . . .

Also, the Breeders' Cup is scheduled for Nov. 8 at Hollywood Park. . . .

Bob Baffert, the Arizona native and basketball fan who trains Silver Charm, points out it's a good year for white-haired guys from Tucson.

*

While wondering if it means anything that Rick Pitino didn't bet on Celtic Warrior in the Derby, I was thinking: It's past time for Tiger Woods to start playing again, Phil Blackmar and Kevin Sutherland could be on the PBA tour for all I know about them, the Ducks deserve better than 0-2.

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