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Dodgers 4, Pirates 3

September 8, 1996

LOS ANGELES (AP) _ The Los Angeles Dodgers suddenly have caught lightning in a bottle _ a water bottle.

Brett Butler’s nearest and dearest companion these days _ except for wife Eveline _ has been the bottle of water he carries around to quench his parched throat after a four-month grind that included surgery for cancer in his tonsil, and ensuing radiation treatments.

If the Los Angeles Dodgers win the NL West, they might spray water around the clubhouse instead of champagne, because Butler is threatening to turn it into the drink of champions.

Butler scored the go-ahead run on a sacrifice fly by Eric Karros for the second time in two games since his return to the lineup, and came home on Raul Mondesi’s three-run homer in the eighth as the Dodgers beat the Pittsburgh Pirates 4-3 on Saturday night.

``I feel really good right now, but it is tough to play a day game after a night game,″ Butler said. ``Tomorrow will be a test. We’ll see how my body will react.″

Butler went 2-for-4, helping Los Angeles open a 1 1/2-game lead over San Diego in the NL West. He is 3-for-7 with a walk in his two games under the lights.

``I spoke with him and he looks good,″ Pirates manager Jim Leyland said. ``I’m sure he’s probably going to have to watch his endurance, but I’m sure that’s a big shot in the arm for that club at a very important time for them.″

On a night the Dodgers honored former manager Tom Lasorda with an emotional pregame ceremony, there was also a near-tragedy in the second inning when a TV monitor fell 30 feet from a broadcast booth onto fans sitting in the Dodgers’ family section in the second deck.

Seven fans, including Dodgers third baseman Tim Wallach’s 10-year-old son Matt, and reliever Todd Worrell’s father Roland were slightly injured. Third baseman Dave Hansen’s month-old daughter was being held by her mother only a foot away from where the heavy unit landed.

Hideo Nomo (14-10) pitched four-hit ball over 8 2-3 innings to outduel Jason Schmidt (3-5), making his second start for the Pirates. Nomo was within one out of his fifth career shutout when he gave up an RBI single to Mark Johnson.

Nomo walked three and struck out nine before being replaced by Worrell, who gave up consecutive RBI singles to Dale Sveum and Carlos Garcia. But the right-hander retired Jason Kendall on a line drive to center with two runners on for his 40th save.

Chad Curtis caught the final out after replacing Butler in center field for the second night in a row.

``My goal is to play every day and not sit,″ Butler said. ``I didn’t want to sit out the ninth again and I told (manager) Billy Russell not to make it a habit.″

Butler, who walked and scored the winning run Friday night in the eighth inning on Karros’ sacrifice fly, drew a one-out walk in the sixth and took third on a single that extended Mike Piazza’s hitting streak to 14 games.

Karros, who leads the Dodgers with eight sacrifice flies and 99 RBIs, followed with a fly to center and Butler beat Jermaine Allensworth’s two-bounce throw to the plate with a head-first slide.

Butler again was involved in the Dodgers’ three-run eighth. He greeted reliever Dan Plesac with a leadoff single and was sacrificed to second. After an intentional walk to Piazza, Dave Wainhouse came in and struck out Eric Karros. Mondesi followed with his 23rd homer, a shot to center.

Schmidt allowed one run and five hits in six innings.

Notes: NL president Len Coleman was one of the guest speakers during a 45-minute pregame ceremony honoring Lasorda, who retired July 29 for health reasons after almost 20 seasons as Dodgers manager. ``The love of the game has been rooted in a Dodger uniform for the past 47 years, and that love has come from Tommy Lasorda,″ Coleman said. ... Karros presented Lasorda with a Rolex watch on behalf of the players. ``One condition we have in giving you this watch is that it doesn’t end up in your garage with the rest of your gifts,″ Karros said. ... Dodgers owner Peter O’Malley presented Lasorda and his wife Jo with a first-class trip around the world. ... Worrell, the first Dodger to record 40 saves in a season, broke open a bottle of champagne and offered the first cup to pitching coach Dave Wallace. ``To both of us,″ Worrell said in a toast.

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