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Dodgers Try to Fire Up, but Go Down in Flames, 9-1

Baseball: Giants take advantage of Park's wildness and send L.A. to sixth loss in a row.

July 04, 1999|JIM HODGES | TIMES STAFF WRITER

This is the way it has gone for the Dodgers lately:

They performed an exorcism in their bullpen Saturday morning, and the demons were still around in the fifth inning.

By then, flames from a pregame bonfire fed by players' clothes and hats had moved to the mound at Dodger Stadium, where the fuel was provided by Chan Ho Park. His three walks in a row preceded a hit batsman and contributed to five San Francisco runs in a 9-1 thumping of the Dodgers before 41,770.

It was the sixth Dodger loss in a row, a streak unequaled since May 16-21, 1995.

Their 10 games below .500 is unequaled since 1992, when they finished 63-99.

"When you're pitching bad, things can look awful ugly," Dodger Manager Davey Johnson said.

This is how ugly it was:

* All five leadoff batters Park faced had hits in his four-plus innings, and four of them scored.

* Barry Bonds hit yet another homer, his third in less than 18 hours, giving the Giants a 4-1 lead.

"Being hurt, I tend to select my pitches," said Bonds, who has had an arm injury. "I just get frustrated when they aren't where I want them to be."

The last two days, they've been exactly where he wanted them: over the plate, then over the right-field wall.

* "How many did he walk, seven or eight?" Johnson asked about Park.

The answer was four, but the three in a row in the fifth inning made it look as though he didn't throw a strike all game long.

Johnson acknowledged that the lack of hitting and pitching has gone hand-in-hand in the Dodger demise, each putting pressure on the other.

The Dodgers have averaged 3.1 runs a game over their last 20 and lost 14. The opponents have averaged 5.3.

"It usually starts with the pitching," Johnson said. "We aren't getting the pitching and that's our strength. . . . And when you're not scoring, you try to pitch too fine. You've got to be aggressive, go at hitters. When you try to be too fine, try to do too much, you have trouble."

Park gave up a run in the first inning when Marvin Benard doubled and eventually scored on an infield out.

A second-inning run came when J.T. Snow singled, went to second on Ellis Burks' walk and scored on a single by Brent Mayne.

The two runs were countered by one scored in the second inning by Raul Mondesi, who had three of the four Dodger hits. He doubled, went to third on a fly ball and scored on Jose Vizcaino's sacrifice fly.

That was the high-water mark for the Dodger offense, and when Bonds homered with Bill Mueller aboard for a 4-1 lead in the third inning, Park knew he had trouble.

"I have to pitch good because I don't want to give up any more runs," he said.

Instead, he pitched poorly, giving up five runs in the fifth inning on a single by Mueller, walks to Bonds, Jeff Kent and Snow and hitting Burks.

"He completely lost it," Johnson said. "I don't know what the problem is. He's a good pitcher, but he's just been struggling."

Park offered the answer to the problem.

"I have to find out how to get relaxed," he said. "That is very difficult for me.

"A couple of [plate umpire Randy Marsh's] calls gave me a hard time, and then I couldn't throw a strike.

"And it's hard to be relaxed when there are men on bases. . . . There are so many things. I'm thinking too much, but I don't know how to forget [what batters have done to him]. They hit the ball, I remember it."

The Dodgers didn't, which is nothing unusual.

Mark Gardner beat the Dodgers for the second time in a row and has only three wins. He pitched economically, striking out only one in five innings, then turned things over to three relievers after suffering a strained groin.

The Dodgers are three games short of halfway point and remain in last place in the National League West, 10 1/2 games behind the Giants.

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