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Can't Blame Worrell for This Defeat

Dodgers: Dreifort gives up three runs in the eighth as Rangers complete sweep, 5-2.

September 04, 1997|JASON REID | TIMES STAFF WRITER

ARLINGTON, Texas — No matter what other problems the Dodgers have had, they could always look to their bullpen for strength.

The group has usually done everything expected of it and more, even if one member has struggled from time to time. Until visiting Texas that is.

Closer Todd Worrell is no longer the only Dodger reliever having problems these days, a fact driven home again Wednesday night in the Texas Rangers' 5-2 interleague victory before 33,116 at The Ballpark at Arlington.

The Dodgers were swept in the two-game series and have lost three in a row. However, they still lead the San Francisco Giants, who lost to Oakland on Wednesday, by 1 1/2 games in the NL West.

As was the case during Tuesday night's 13-12 loss to the Rangers--in which the Dodgers squandered a five-run, ninth-inning lead--the bullpen didn't have the answers in a game delayed two hours by rain.

Darren Dreifort relieved starter Ismael Valdes to start the eighth with the score tied, 2-2. Then everything went downhill for the Dodgers.

Dreifort gave up a single to center by pinch-hitter Jim Leyritz. Hanley Frias ran for Leyritz and scored the go-ahead run on a triple by former Dodger Tom Goodwin to give the Rangers a 3-2 lead.

All-star catcher Ivan Rodriguez drove in Goodwin with a single to right. With one out and Scott Radinsky pitching, Rodriguez scored the Rangers' third run of the inning when shortstop Greg Gagne fielded a ball hit by Lee Stevens and and threw home, where umpire Mike Everitt ruled that Rodriguez beat the tag by catcher Tom Prince.

Dreifort (5-2), who gave up four hits and was charged with all three runs, took the loss.

"They didn't hit good pitches," Dreifort said. "They were up in the zone."

Closer John Wetteland made the lead hold up to earn his 28th save. Danny Patterson (9-5) pitched two-thirds of an inning in relief of Bobby Witt to gain the victory.

"They got timely hitting," Dodger Manager Bill Russell said of the Rangers. "Valdes pitched good for seven innings, but we just couldn't get them. We just didn't get the big hits like we did last night."

The Dodgers had problems all night with Everitt.

Eric Young had to be restrained by coaches in the fifth after being called out on strikes by Everitt. Darren Lewis had to be restrained for the same reason in the seventh.

Valdes pitched seven strong innings, giving up seven hits and solo home runs to Stevens and Rodriguez.

Rodriguez didn't start in Tuesday's game because of a stiff back, but he delivered a key pinch hit that drove in two runs in the decisive ninth inning.

He must have been feeling better Wednesday, because Rodriguez was in his familiar position behind home plate. He also hit his 14th home run in the sixth inning to right to tie the game at 2-2.

Otis Nixon, who drove in the Dodgers' first run in the third, scored in the sixth to break a 1-1 tie. Nixon led off the inning with a single to right and took third on a single to center by Mike Piazza, who was the Dodgers' designated hitter in both games of the series.

After Eric Karros popped out to second, Raul Mondesi hit his team-leading 36th double to right to score Nixon and give the Dodgers a 2-1 lead. The Dodgers missed out on another run, though, when Ranger right fielder Alex Diaz scooped up the ball and fired a perfect relay throw to shortstop Benji Gil, who made another strong throw to Rodriguez. By the time Piazza reached the plate, Rodriguez was waiting with the ball.

Valdes was cruising along until the fifth. He gave up four hits to that point, all singles, and helped by his teammates turning two double plays.

Young and Nixon again got the Dodger offense started. With two outs in the third, Young singled and stole second--his 40th stolen base of the season.

Young's steal isn't all that significant by itself. However, it came against Rodriguez, generally regarded as the best defensive player at his position in baseball.

Entering the game, Rodriguez had thrown out 34 of 65 would-be base stealers for a rate of 52.3%--best in the majors. However, Rodriguez's throw skipped under Gil's glove and rolled into center for an error that allowed Young to advance to third.

Then Nixon hit a line drive to center. Goodwin sprinted to his left but couldn't catch up with the ball until Young had scored easily and Nixon was on his way to a triple.

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