Nomo Can't Get Out of the Fourth Inning

The story of the game was not the fact that the Dodgers lost to Pedro Martinez. He has stuffed a lot of teams since Fred Claire's 'advisers' convinced him that Pedro was too small to be a starter in the major leagues. The story was Hideo Nomo's 11th start, one in which he didn't last four innings and lost his seventh game in 10 decisions. In his 11 starts he has averaged just over four innings per start.

Nomo (3-7) has not won in his last seven starts, he has not pitched beyond five innings in his last four, and his earned-run average is approaching 8.00. The question keeps coming up, can they afford to keep Hideo Nomo in their starting rotation?

"If you just look at the results. I can't say I am improving." -- Hideo Nomo.

The Dodgers, losers of five of their last seven games and 18 of their last 28, flew home Sunday night in first place by .001 percentage points over the San Diego Padres and 1 1/2 games ahead of the charging San Francisco Giants.

Nomo faced 18 batters and retired eight Sunday, throwing 41 balls among 85 pitches, with a fastball ranging from 82 to 88 mph. He gave up four runs in 3.1 innings, results that could have been much uglier.

A double play in the first held the damage to one run. A double play in the third negated a double and a single. But a walk, a hit batsman and a pair of doubles knocked Nomo out of the box and the Dodgers out of the game.

The Dodgers hadn't faced Martinez (7-3) since 1997 when they beat him 1-0. He was used mostly in relief while with Los Angeles, recording a 10-5 record with a 2.61 ERA in 1993. A number of people inn the front office determined he was too small to stand the rigors of a starting spot.

He was traded to Montreal, then on to Boston, where he has won 163 games while losing 61 -- a .728 percentage -- along with three Cy Young Awards (plus two second place finishes and a third place), six ERA titles and he led the league in strikeouts three times.

Wilson Alvarez came in to pitch three scoreless innings and Duaner Sanchez went the other 1.2.

The Dodgers scored early against Martinez on a Milton Bradley first-inning RBI single, but Bradley was nailed attempting to stretch the hit. He picked off first base in the fourth inning but TV replays showed the first baseman missed the tag.