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Giants Turn the Tied

Baseball: San Francisco evens race on Johnson's homer in 12th after Dodgers blow bases-loaded opportunity.

September 19, 1997|STEVE SPRINGER | TIMES STAFF WRITER

SAN FRANCISCO — It took Dodger reliever Mark Guthrie only two words to sum up Thursday's crushing 6-5, 12-inning loss to the San Francisco Giants: "I stink."

It may not make Guthrie feel any better, but he was not alone.

There was plenty of blame to go around for the Dodgers after they lost both games of the series against the Giants to fall back into a tie with San Francisco for the lead in the National League West with nine games to play.

It was Guthrie who served the game-deciding pitch after the Dodgers had fallen behind, 5-1, only to tie the score with two runs in the sixth inning and two in seventh.

Guthrie, the seventh Dodger pitcher, came on in the 12th to face catcher Brian Johnson.

His only pitch?

"It was a fastball down the middle," Guthrie said.

An instant later, it was a fastball over the fence at 3Com Park, but barely, thanks to a stiff wind that had cut down fly ball after fly ball.

Dodger left fielder Todd Hollandsworth hoped this one would be cut down as well.

With the sellout crowd of 52,140 roaring, Hollandsworth faded back to the wall.

"I thought I had a shot at the ball," he said. "I had a bead on it all the way, but I just ran out of room."

On the mound, Guthrie watched in horror.

"The wind was coming in at about 100 miles per hour," Guthrie said, "but he [Johnson] hit that ball right through it. It was an inside pitch. He had been hitting to right all day."

Guthrie acknowledged that Thursday's outing was another in a series of frustrating outings.

"Every time I go out there, I stink," he said. "I have tried everything. I have no answers. You get used to it. I've been belted around since the All-Star [break]. I have never seen a pitcher battered around as much as I have been."

Before the game, Guthrie had given up 11 runs in his previous 13 2/3 innings over 12 appearances. Johnson's home run was the 12th he has given up in 69 1/3 innings, tied with Todd Worrell for the most among Dodger relievers.

The loss drops Guthrie to 1-4 with a 5.32 earned-run average.

"I remembered Guthrie had a real good fastball," Johnson said. "I told myself to wait until he got one down. He got one down right away.

"That was a big moment in my life."

The Giants won the series opener Wednesday on Barry Bonds' two-run homer, and Bonds was at it again Thursday, hitting a three-run homer in the fifth inning, his 35th, into the right-field seats.

He also tripled in the first and scored on a single by Glenallen Hill. J.T. Snow hit his 26th homer in the fourth.

But with all that, the Dodgers had a chance to win in the 10th after having pecked away all afternoon.

Otis Nixon hit his second homer of the season, and first as a Dodger, in the first inning. In the sixth, the Dodgers got one run on a single by Eric Karros and another on a double by Todd Zeile. And in the seventh, Mike Piazza drove in two with a single to tie the score, giving him a career-high 113 runs batted in.

Giant closer Rod Beck (6-4), who has seven blown saves and has been struggling of late, came on in the 10th and gave up three singles in a row--to Piazza, Karros and Raul Mondesi--to load the bases with nobody out.

Up came Zeile.

With two strikes, Zeile knew he had to be careful.

"He has the forkball and the slider," the third baseman said. "I was just protecting."

Instead, Beck crossed Zeile up and threw a fastball that hit the inside corner. The bat never left Zeile's shoulder.

"He froze me," Zeile said. "It was a strike."

Down went Zeile.

Up came pinch-hitter Eddie Murray.

With the infield playing up, Murray hit a bouncer to second baseman Jeff Kent, who threw home to Johnson for one out and Johnson threw to first for the inning-ending, spirit-breaking double play.

"It was a game we should have won," Zeile said. "But there are a lot of games we should have won. This is just another one added to the list."

(BEGIN TEXT OF INFOBOX / INFOGRAPHIC)

THE WEST / Stretch Drive

STANDINGS

*--*

TEAM W L GB DODGERS 84 69 -- GIANTS 84 69 --

*--*

THURSDAY

Dodgers: 5

Giants: 6

Winning Pitcher: Rod Beck (6-4)

Losing Pitcher: Mark Guthrie (1-4)

THE FINAL 9

Dodgers vs. COLO., SEPT. 19

Dodgers vs. COLO., SEPT. 20

Dodgers vs. COLO., SEPT. 21

OFF, SEPT. 22 Dodgers vs. Padres, SEPT. 23

Dodgers vs. Padres, SEPT. 24

Dodgers at Rockies, SEPT. 25

Dodgers at Rockies, SEPT. 26

Dodgers at Rockies, SEPT. 27

Dodgers at Rockies, SEPT. 28

THE FINAL 9

Giants at Padres, SEPT. 19

Giants at Padres, SEPT. 20

Giants at Padres, SEPT. 21

Giants at Padres, SEPT. 22

Giants at Rockies, SEPT. 23

Giants at Rockies, SEPT. 24

OFF, SEPT. 25

Giants vs. Padres, SEPT. 26

Giants vs. Padres, SEPT. 27

Giants vs. Padres, SEPT. 28

Giants vs. Padres, SEPT. 29

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