Orel Hershiser's streak continues, with a controversial call

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Hershiser's fifth straight shutout was against the Giants and was helped by a controversial call, just like Don Drysdale's fifth straight shutout in 1968.

On Sept. 23, 1988, 25 years ago Monday, Orel Hershiser threw his fifth consecutive shutout to inch ever closer to Don Drysdale's record 58 consecutive scoreless innings. Just like Drysdale 20 years earlier, Hershiser received a favorable call from an umpire to keep the streak going against the Giants.

Hershiser and the Dodgers beat the Giants 3-0 in San Francisco to run his streak to 49 straight scoreless innings, but the streak nearly died in the third inning. After singles by Jose Uribe and Atlee Hammaker began the frame, a force play grounder by Brett Butler put runners at the corners with one out for Ernest Riles.

Riles grounded a ball to second base but after getting one out at second base Riles easily beat the throw to first base, allowing a run to score. But Butler's slide at second base came in question, per Sam McManis of the Los Angeles Times:

As Uribe crossed home plate, Butler's slide took out Griffin, whose throw sailed over first baseman Tracy Woodson's head for an apparent 1-0 Giant lead.

But second base umpire Paul Runge ruled that Butler had interfered with Griffin, and the television replay showed that Butler had swung his arm into Griffin's leg. Hence an inning-ending double play, and the run was taken off the scoreboard.

Butler bolted from the dugout in protest, and Giant Manager Roger Craig spent 5 minutes arguing with Runge. In the meantime, Dodger players had already headed off the field and into the dugout.

The play ended the 43rd consecutive scoreless inning for Hershiser and was similar to the play on May 31, 1968 against the Giants at Dodger Stadium, when Drysdale's 45th straight spotless frame was helped by a similar call.

Up 3-0 in the ninth inning, Drysdale allowed a single and two walks to load the bases with nobody out for Dick Dietz. Drysdale hit Dietz with a pitch to apparently force home a run, but umpire Harry Wendelstedt ruled that Dietz did nothing to get out of the way of the pitch, calling it a ball instead. Dietz flew out, then a pop out and ground out later gave Drysdale a fifth straight shutout. And one shocked broadcaster, per Josh Suchon's book Miracle Men: Hershiser, Gibson and the Improbable 1988 Dodgers:

"I was on the air and I couldn't believe it, " Dodgers announcer Vin Scully remembered. "As soon as Dick was hit, I thought, There it goes. And then Harry Wendelstedt said he did not make an effort to get out of the way of the pitch. I didn't really even think that counted. I thought guys could take one for the club. Harry interpreted it that way."

Hershiser recovered to retire nine straight batters after the favorable ruling. San Francisco briefly threatened in the seventh inning with two runners on base, but pinch hitter Francisco Melendez grounded back to Hershiser for an inning-ending double play to keep the game scoreless.

In the top of the eighth inning, Mickey Hatcher touched Hammaker for a three-run home run to give the Dodgers the lead, Hatcher's first home run of the season.

The 3-0 win over the Giants reduced the magic number for the Dodgers to clinch the National League West over the Reds to just two, and ran Hershiser's record to 23-8. Hershiser's 15th complete game and eighth shutout of the season lowered his ERA to 2.35, down from 2.90 when the streak began.

Hershiser's streak IP H R ER BB K HBP BF Opponents
Sept. 23 at Giants
9 5
0 0 2
2
0 32
.172/.226/.172
Streak to date 49 27 0 0 10 35 0 180 .163/.210/.181
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