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1988 NLCS Game 5: Dodgers take 3-2 series lead over Mets

It was Monday day baseball as the teams played a matinee after Game 4 had ended after midnight. The Dodgers won 7-4 as Tim Belcher would win his second game of the series and Kirk Gibson hit his second home run on that Monday.

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There is nothing like waking up after a big win and having playoff baseball there for you in the morning. And that was how it was for Game 5 as the rainout the previous Friday had taken this scheduled off-day Monday and made it a game day.

Tim Belcher was back on the mound for the Dodgers and the Mets countered with Sid Fernandez. For those of you who don't know Fernandez, El Sid as he was known in New York, was drafted and signed by the Dodgers in 1981. Fernandez advanced quickly and made his Dodger debut in 1983, starting one of the two games he appeared in that season.

A promising future with the Dodgers was curtailed as Fernandez was dealt in the monumental Bob Bailor deal in December 1983. Fernandez would come up to the Mets in 1984 and he would be a rotation regular in his Met career, he made 192 starts for the Mets from 1984-1989 and he would end his 10-year stint with the Mets making 250 starts.

Tim Belcher kept the Mets off the board for three innings and the Dodgers entered the top of fourth looking to score the game's first run. With one out, Mike Marshall singled and John Shelby walked, then Rick Dempsey hit a double scoring both of the runners and with two outs, Alfredo Griffin doubled home Dempsey to make it 3-0.

The Mets didn't score in the bottom of the fourth and the Dodgers had the top of the order coming up in the fifth. Steve Sax and Mickey Hatcher both singled and with two runners on, Kirk Gibson crushed a ball to right field, his three-run home run making it 6-0 and driving Fernandez from the game.

In the bottom of the fifth, Lenny Dykstra hit a three-run home run to cut the Dodgers' lead to 6-3.

Both teams were held scoreless until the bottom of the eighth when the Mets scored again to make it 6-4. Brian Holton entered the game with one out and runners on first and second, Sam McManis of the LA Times wrote about what happened next this in his game story:

Holton got McReynolds to hit a slow grounder between Griffin at shortstop and Jeff Hamilton at third. As Jefferies sprinted toward third, the ball glanced off his left foot. McReynolds was credited with an infield single, but Jefferies was called out.

So, with Strawberry on second and McReynolds on first, Holton faced Carter, who had 4 runs batted in in the first 4 games. But Carter hit Holton's 3-2 slow curveball to Gibson in left field and the Dodgers' 6-4 lead remained intact.

"It was one of those freak things," Jefferies said of being hit by the ball. "I ran. I jumped, and the ball hit me. I saw it, I was watching it. I couldn't stop. We (Jefferies and Griffin) would've collided. It must have hit something--dirt or a lip (in the turf). The ball caught my spike."

Gibson got on in the top of the ninth and he stole second to put himself in scoring position but that stolen base came at a cost. McManis added an update in his story.

Not even the news that Gibson had aggravated the injury to his left hamstring in the ninth inning could spoil the Dodgers' mood. Dr. Frank Jobe said he administered a cortisone injection to Gibson's hamstring and that his condition could not be determined until today.

Jose Gonzalez came in to run for Gibson and he scored, making it 7-4 Dodgers.

Holton would close out the bottom of the ninth, the Mets going 1-2-3. Holton was the third different Dodgers pitcher to record a save during the series, joining Alejandro Pena and Orel Hershiser.

The Dodgers were headed back home one win away from going to the World Series.

Game 4 particulars

Home runs: Kirk Gibson (2); Lenny Dykstra (1)

WP - Tim Belcher (2-0): 7 IP, 7 hits, 4 runs, 1 walk, 6 strikeouts

LP - Sid Fernandez (0-1): 4 IP, 7 hits, 6 runs, 1 walk, 5 strikeouts

Sv - Brian Holton (1) : 1⅔ IP, 1 hit, 1 strikeout

Box score