Once thoughts of a Yankee sweep had been swept away tonight, Aurelio Rodriguez was giving the answers and Reggie Jackson was asking the questions.

And New York owner George Steinbrenner was doing both.

"Why should we worry, we're up two to one," said Steinbrenner as he talked to the press and milled about the pin stripes in the Yankees locker room after the Los Angeles Dodgers had won Game 3 of the 78th World Series, 5-4. The victory cut New York's Series lead to 2-1.

Steinbrenner added, "We let up on that team. It was a foolish mistake. Fernando (Valenzuela) was beatable. We made mental mistakes."

One of those mistakes was made by Rodriguez, who was playing in place of Graig Nettles, the third baseman whose bruised thumb has made his status day-to-day.

With none out in the fifth and the Yankees leading, 4-3, the Dodgers had Steve Garvey (single) on second and Ron Cey (walk) on first. Up came Pedro Guerrero, who was hitting zero for 10 with runners in scoring position this postseason.

"I expected him to bunt," said Rodriguez, who thereby was met by the unexpected.

Guerrero hit an 0-1 pitch that took one high hop over Rodriguez, who was playing at the edge of the infield grass. Guerrero had a game tying double. When Mike Scioscia's double play grounder scored Cey two hitters later, the Dodgers had a 5-4 lead.

Looking like the defendant on the witness stand, Rodriguez said, "I had to play in, with two men on and no one out. I jumped as high as I could for the ball. The infield is so hard. In Yankee Stadium that might have been a triple play."

Nettles unraveled the gauze on his left thumb and said, "I would have been playing in, too. You can just look at this infield and see how hard it is."

And then there was Reggie. The right fielder has not been able to play in the Series because of a sore calf muscle. He questioned why he wasn't called on by Manager Bob Lemon to pinch-hit for the pitcher when there were no outs and runners on first and second in the eighth inning. It was, he figured, a Reggiesque situation.

But Lemon chose Bobby Murcer instead. Murcer then popped up a sacrifice bunt that Cey caught in foul territory. This left Larry Milbourne caught off first base for a rally-deadening double play.

"I could have played tonight. Yeah, I was ready. Why didn't I pinch-hit in the eighth? I don't know. You'll have to ask the manager," Jackson said.

Lemon responded with a question of his own: "Are you kidding? You have the best left-hander in the National League out there and he (Jackson) hasn't been to bat in a while. It wouldn't be fair to him."

Regarding Game 4 today, Reggie said, "I'll be ready again." He stressed the final word: Again.

Murcer said of his bunt that failed, "I was ready for it. My bat was in the right place. I just didn't get it down."

Murcer, who dropped a successful pinch-hit sacrifice bunt in Game 2, added, "It would have been a good pitch to hit."