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A Pinch of Murray Does the Trick, 7-4

Dodgers: Veteran gets key hit and bullpen does job against Marlins. Worrell sets save record.

September 06, 1997|JASON REID | TIMES STAFF WRITER

Eddie Murray will walk away from baseball someday, because no one plays the game forever.

When Murray does leave, his place in Cooperstown is assured. But for now, the Dodgers aren't letting him go anywhere.

In his first appearance since signing with the Dodgers, the future Hall of Famer drove in two runs with a pinch-hit single Friday night to highlight a 7-4 victory over the Florida Marlins at Dodger Stadium.

The victory ended the Dodgers' three-game losing streak and kept them two games ahead of San Francisco in the NL West.

"The thing is, I can still hit," said Murray, who batted for reliever Antonio Osuna. "I've had a wrist injury, but if I didn't think I could hit, I would have stayed away."

Murray, signed to a minor league contract Aug. 20 after being released by the Angels on Aug. 14, drove a pitch from Marlin reliever Jay Powell down the right-field line to score Greg Gagne and Todd Zeile with the game's final runs in the bottom of the seventh inning. He received standing ovations from the crowd of 39,242 before coming to bat and when Manager Bill Russell sent Wilton Guerrero in to run for him.

"Eddie did what we asked him to do. He got a base hit," Russell said. "There's a lot of quickness left in that bat. Guys like Eddie are invaluable this time of year."

Dodger starter Ramon Martinez (9-3) earned the victory despite not being sharp. He pitched five innings, giving up four earned runs and walking four. Marlin starter Alex Fernandez (17-10) wasn't on his game either, giving up five earned runs and walking seven in six innings.

However, the Dodger relievers got back in the groove. After consecutive poor performances against Texas, the usually dependable bunch righted itself against Florida.

Osuna pitched two scoreless innings and Mark Guthrie had one. Even much-maligned closer Todd Worrell has reason to feel good.

Worrell, who has been shaky for more than a month, entered the game to a smattering of boos. However, he pitched a scoreless inning to earn his 34th save and 126th as a Dodger. The latter number makes Worrell the team's all-time save leader, breaking the record he shared with Jim Brewer.

"We had a three-run lead, he was well rested, and we're going to need him," Russell said. "He threw well and he was ahead of the hitters. That's the Todd we need."

With the Dodgers trailing, 4-3, in the fifth, Otis Nixon led off with a single and went to third on a ground-rule double to left field by Eric Karros. Nixon would have scored easily had the ball not bounced over the wall.

After Fernandez intentionally walked Raul Mondesi, Zeile hit a shot that twisted right fielder Gary Sheffield as he raced back toward the wall.

Sheffield, not the game's most skilled outfielder, didn't make the catch and Nixon and Karros scored. However, Sheffield got the ball back into the infield quickly and held Zeile to a long single.

Edgar Renteria had given the Marlins a 4-3 lead in the fifth. With the count full, the light-hitting Renteria hit his fourth home run to right against Martinez.

The home run was the 11th Martinez has given up in 110 2/3 innings--the same number Worrell has surrendered in less than half those innings pitched.

It didn't appear that Martinez would last long. His pitches were all over the place--except around the plate.

He gave up two runs in the first inning on only one hit, thanks to three walks. Devon White opened the game with an infield single, but he was forced by Renteria.

Renteria stole second, his 26th steal, and was prevented from taking third only by a good defensive play by shortstop Greg Gagne. Backing up the play, Gagne leaped and snatched the throw by Mike Piazza behind second to prevent it from going into center. But Gagne couldn't help Martinez locate the plate.

With one out, Martinez walked Sheffield and Bobby Bonilla to load the bases. Renteria scored when Martinez walked Jim Eisenreich and Alou hit into a fielder's choice that allowed Sheffield to score, giving the Marlins a 2-0 lead. Martinez avoided further problems by getting Charles Johnson to ground out.

Piazza cut the lead to 2-1 with his 33rd home run in the first. With two out, Piazza sent a 2-2 pitch from Fernandez over the wall in right. Piazza has 17 home runs since the All-Star break--the most in the league during that span.

The Marlins took a 3-1 lead in the third. Sheffield doubled to right and scored on a single to left by Alou. The Dodgers cut the lead to 3-2 in the bottom of the inning, but they missed a big opportunity. With the bases loaded and no outs, Karros hit into a double play, scoring Eric Young.

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