The Los Angeles Dodgers may not laugh last in this World Series, but they had a good chuckle today at the expense of the New York Yankees.
The Dodgers jumped all over Yank ace Don Gullet and built a 10-0 lead by the sixth inning, then cruised to a 10-4 fifth-game victory.
The Yankees have a 3-2 lead in games as the terms return to New York for Game 6 Tuesday night.
Cathcer Steve Yeager hit a three-run homer off Gullett in a four-run Dodger fourth that made the score 5-0. He finished with four RBI, while Reggie Smith drove home two runs with a 400-foot homer and Dusty Baker plated two runs with three singles.
Don Sutton hurled a nine-hitter for the Dodgers. He was sharp in the early innings when he needed to be, but gave up back-to-back homers to Thurman Munson and Reggie Jackson after it was too late for the Yanks in the eighth.
The Dodgers, who entered the game with a .190 Series batting average and argued that the Yanks had not yet seen the real L.A. power attack, ripped 13 hits today, two of them homers that upped their Series homer total to eight.
The Dodgers will start Game 2 winner Burt Hooton in Tuesday's 8:15 unusual choice, recently injured Ed p.m. game, while the Yankees plan an Figueroa, rather than Game 3 winner Mike Torrez.
Don Gullett, the flame-thrower whose biggest weakness in postseason games has been overexcitement and wildness, threw three straight balls to leadoff man Dave Lopes.
On a 3-1 fast ball down the pipe, Lopes, who had been 1-for-15, ripped a pitch off the top of the left-field wire fence in front of the Dodger bullpen for a triple.
On Saturday leftfielder Lou Piniella caught a Ron Cey blast in almost the same spot, except that one was more than a foot above the nine-foot fence. This time Piniella got a bad jump, found the ball late, and crashed into the fence so hard that he knocked it open. Still, he missed a snag by only inches.
Bill Russell, 2-for-18 for the Series lined an RBI single to left for a 1-0 lead on a grooved fast ball.
Russell took second as Graig Nettles made a brilliant, ankle-high scoop-and-peg of Reggie Smith's swinging bunt, nipping him by inches. But Gullett, his fast ball torrid, stopped throwing at the heart of the plate and fired at the low-outside corner enough to fan Cey and Steve Garvey.
Every inning, however, was an ordeal for Gullett. His arm was live, but his control bad as he used 25 pitches in the first inning. Though he walked only one man in his 99 pitches in 4 1/3 innings, he was behind innumerable power hitters and escape punishment on a remarkable number of fast balls down the middle.
The 32-year-old veteran, Don Sutton, by contrast, was a master of changing speeds, which made his occasional high fast balls look even better.
Thurman Munson, whom Sutton calls "the second smartest hitter in the world after Rod Carew," dumped a soft line single to center in the first. After Sutton stranded him, the easy-going righty slapped Munson's hand in admiration as they crossed the infield between innings.
Gullett's Houdini act came to a sudden end in the fourth. Cey opened with a 330-foot fly into the left-field corner that would have conked a first-row customer if Piniella had not been standing there to grab it easily.
Cey had worked a 3-2 count and so did Garvey before drilling a waist-high strike off the right-center-field fence on one hop for a double. Dusty Baker lashed a 2-1 pitch into left for an RBI single and a 2-0 lead.
Piniella charged the ground single too aggressively, much as Baker had done in Game 3, and it rolled past him for an error, allowing Baker to take second.
It was the Yank's first error of the Series and a harbinger. Lee Lacy, the next batter, hit a simple grounder to third that became a nightmare. Graig Nettles never got in rhythm with the hopper and fielded the ball with the crook of his right elbow for the second error in two plays.
A minute later the Yankees paid for those mistakes.
Steve Yeager, the L.A., catcher who claims he loathes all "crooked-armed lefthanders," then transformed the game. Yeager claims he makes an exception of Gullett in his hatred "because he only throws fast balls. He's the only lefthander in baseball I fell confortable swinging against."
Yeager comfortably crashed another Gullett fat fast ball about 15 rows into the left-field seats for a three-run blast, his second Series homer. Yeager stood near home to admire his work and make sure it stayed a good 30 feet fair. He rounded the bases as rolls of toilet paper cascaded onto the field along with cheers. Yeager had to make a command bow from the dug out for a second hat tip.
Yank manager Billy Martin, who has gotten generally good reviews for strategy in this Series, may have out-smarted himself in the fifth.
He wanted Gullett to give him one last inning so he would not have to waste a relief pitcher by pinch-hitting in the sixth.So he left Gullett in. The southpaw allowed a Reggie Smith walk, a ringing Cey line out and a crisp Garvey single to right before Martin lifted him.
The Dodger drought had endearned their Murderers Row was rolling. Baker greeted reliever Ken Clay with a single to deep short, scoring Smith, and Lacy ripped a hit to right to send Garvey home for a 7-0 lead. Yeager, the crowd roaring in appreciation for his homer the inning before, drove in his fourth run in a half-hour with a sacrifice fly.
Dick Tidrow was the next Yankee pitcher to receive his punishment for the way the Dodgers were held to a collective . 190 average for the first four Series games.
In the sixth, Russel singled and Smith followed with a 400-foot homer over the center-field fence for a rather emphatic 10-0 lead.
The homer was Smith's fourth this Series and the Dodgers' eighth.
No team has hit that many since the '70 Baltimore Orioles har 10. The National League record is nine by the '56 Brooklyn Dodgers, while the all-time record is a dozen by the '56 New York Yankees. No NL team has matched the Dodgers eight round-trippers since the '57 Milwaukee Braves.
With his huge lead, Sutton simply threw strikes. The result was appreciable damage to his ERA in big games. After singles by Jackson and Chambliss in the seventh, Nettles doubled in a run and another scored on a Dent ground out.
With two out in the eighth Sutton's old friends, Munson and Jackson, ripped him for back-to-back homers, Munson's into the sears in left-center while Jackson's was a monster that might have gone more than 450 feet had it not hit about 60 feet up the foul-pole screen at the 330-foot mark in right.
Before today Sutton had a 3-0 record in playoffs with a 0.69 ERA, a 1-0 Series mark with 3.15 ERA and an All-Star game record of 1-0 with a 0.00 ERA in eight innings.
Sutton now has started eight of these national showcase games, has a 6-0 record and has an ERA under 2.00 for 63 innings.