This time, retreat meant more than defeat for the Los Angeles Dodgers.
Tonight it meant second place.
Pinch hitter Rafael Landestoy, once a Dodger, grounded a run-scoring single to center field, scoring Ron Oester from second with one out in the 10th inning as the Cincinnati Reds defeated Los Angeles, 4-3, before 43,375 at Dodger Stadium.
With Atlanta beating San Francisco, 8-3, the Braves have a one-game lead in the National League West. The Dodgers are one game behind, the Giants 2. Each team has five games left.
This was the seventh consecutive loss for the Dodgers, the longest slump in the six-year reign of Manager Tommy Lasorda. The winning rally came off reliever Dave Stewart (9-8), who walked Oester to start the 10th. Larry Biittner sacrificed Oester to second and Landestoy, hitting .198, drove home the winner.
The Dodgers loaded the bases with none out in the bottom of the inning. Bill Russell walked. Steve Yeager's sacrifice bunt was booted by first baseman Dan Driessen. At this point, Joe Price relieved Ben Hayes (2-0), who had entered in the eighth.
Pinch hitter Mark Belanger's bunt toward third became an infield hit, loading the bases.
Then came the deadening trio of failure: Steve Sax flied to short center, Ron Roenicke popped to second and Dusty Baker flied to right.
The Dodgers left 15 runners on base against the Reds, the last-place team of 98 defeats.
Rookie second baseman Sax's fourth home run this season, down the left field line off Frank Pastore's second pitch, gave the Dodgers a 1-0 lead.
It also seemed that this home run might be the alarm clock awakening the Dodgers from a six-game offensive slumber.
But Pastore returned their bats to the state of snooze for the next four innings. Through the fifth, Pastore remained locked on the shy side of a 1-0 duel with Bob Welch.
The Dodgers had lost six straight in the last eight days. They also lost a 2 1/2 game lead over Atlanta and a 5 1/2 game lead over San Francisco.
"You have two or three of these streaks every year," first baseman Steve Garvey said prior to playing in his 1,102nd consecutive game.
The Dodgers lost six straight in April, too. Consequently, on April 19, these defending world champions were in third place, 7 1/2 games back.
As Cincinnati Manager Russ Nixon said, "To me, these guys (Dodgers) are in the most trouble of any of the three clubs left in the race."
Because the Dodgers aren't hitting.
Tonight, Lasorda did not start third baseman Ron Cey (.254) or center fielder Ken Landreaux (.286) because they are not producing at a time when production wins pennants. Pedro Guerrero (.306), the infielder/outfielder with MVP numbers, moved in to third and Roenicke (.263) played center.
Neither did Lasorda start Mike Scioscia (.219), the left-handed swinger who usually starts against right-handed pitchers. Yeager (.245) was catching instead.
The Dodgers entered the sixth still with a 1-0 lead. But they also entered it with a streak of 60 innings of not having scored more than one run in any of those innings.
In the sixth, they scored two, boosting their lead to 3-0. It wasn't exactly an explosive rally.
Roenicke opened the home half with a walk. He stole second, but had to return to first when Baker was called out for interfering with catcher Dave Van Gorder. Roenicke stole second again.
Guerrero followed with a run-scoring single to center, making it 2-0. One out later, Garvey was walked intentionally and Russell's infield hit loaded the bases. Yeager battled back from an 0-2 count and walked, forcing in the run that made it 3-0.
The Reds tied with three runs in the eighth. After Cesar Cedeno singled to center and Johnny Bench squibbed a single to right, Lasorda removed Welch, who had yielded two hits and had retired 12 straight.
Oester grounded a single to right off reliever Tom Niedenfuer, scoring Cedeno and sending Bench to third. Pinch hitter Biittner's ground out scored Bench and pinch hitter Wayne Krenchicki followed with a single to center that tied the score.