For four innings, they were like two ships passing in the night. Bruce Hurst was a proud steamship on excursion. Dwight Gooden was a tugboat in uncharted waters.
Hurst stayed on course and carried the Red Sox to a 4-2 victory over the Mets in the fifth game of the World Series last night at Fenway Park.
For the second time in a week, he came up with an important victory. As a result, Boston now leads the best-of-seven series, 3-2, and can wrap up its first world championship in 68 years by taking Game 6 tomorrow night in New York. Should they fail then, the Sox will get another chance in Game 7 Sunday night at Shea Stadium.
Gooden was humbled for the second time in a week by Red Sox bats, which came to life for 12 hits. Once the flagship of National League pitchers, Gooden continued his postseason slide, suffering his second Series loss and third since the NL Championship Series began. Failing for the fourth time to notch a postseason victory, he lasted but four-plus innings last night, giving up all four runs and nine hits.
Hurst may have pitched better last Saturday in a 1-0 victory in New York. But in pitching a complete-game victory last night, he was in complete command, scattering 10 hits and striking out six while stretching his shutout streak to 15 1/3 innings before surrendering a run in both the eighth and ninth. Hurst threw 130 pitches and saved the best for last when he struck out Len Dykstra, the potential tying run, to end the game.
Gooden looked worse than he had in a 9-3 loss in Game 2 Sunday. Boston’s nine hits included two triples that might have been homers save for a strong crosswind. Those conditions didn’t seem to affect Hurst, who put the Sox back in control after they’d squandered a 2-0 Series advantage by losing on consecutive nights at Fenway.
“You will see a different club when we go to New York,” said Jim Rice, who had two hits. “We know their backs are at the door, not ours.”
Still, the Mets took encouragement from the fact they forced the Series back to New York after arriving at Fenway in a deep hole.
“I look back,” said Mets manager Davey Johnson, “and when we came here, we were down, 2-0. We had to win two to get back to Shea. That’s what we did.
“We’re still in very good shape. Our backs are to the wall, but we’re not out of it.”
Hurst shoved the Mets into a precarious position and gave the Sox the elixir they needed. Working on his normal four days’ rest, he was strong from start to finish as he posted the first Fenway World Series victory by a Sox lefthander since Babe Ruth in the championship season of 1918. Hurst’s control might have been off. But once he was given a lead, there was no catching him.
After being humbled for two nights by Bobby Ojeda and Ron Darling, the Red Sox came out strong and never let up. Boston jumped on Gooden for a run in the second inning and kept up the attack in the third and fifth.
Dave Henderson tripled and scored in the second on a sacrifice fly by Spike Owen. In the third, Bill Buckner reached on an error and scored on a single by Dwight Evans.
Gooden was forced out in the fifth after surrendering a triple by Rice that was followed by a run-scoring single by Don Baylor and another single by Evans. Reliever Sid Fernandez gave up a double to Henderson that brought Baylor home with the final run.
New York rallied with a pair of late runs.
Righthanded-hitting Tim Teufel, who started at second in place of Wally Backman against the lefty, hit a solo homer in the eighth.
And in the ninth, the Mets brought Hurst’s apparent cruise to a perilous close.
With two out, Mookie Wilson doubled to left and scored on a single by Rafael Santana, turning it into a two-run game. But Hurst responded by striking out Dykstra.
“I didn’t feel like I was at my best,” said Hurst. “I didn’t have my best stuff and I got a lot of balls up. I can’t overpower anybody. But I was able to change speeds and move the ball in and out. I thought I stayed within myself.”
Sox manager John McNamara had prepared Hurst perfectly for this start by using Al Nipper as his Game 4 starter. He was second-guessed after the Sox lost that game -- despite a decent effort by Nipper -- but McNamara’s logic seemed clear once Hurst took the mound last night.
“Hurst just pitched an outstanding game,” said McNamara. “They didn’t hit many balls hard off him all night. After the second and third innings, we felt if we scored some runs, we would have the game under control.
“Nipper did his job and did it very well. Now we have the pitcher with the most wins in baseball (Roger Clemens) going Saturday night.”
Clemens may have the most victories in 1986, but Hurst has been the Sox’ postseason savior, as he proved with his vital victory against Gooden.
And the Sox’ dormant offense finally revived.
“It doesn’t matter who you face,” said Rice. “We wanted to get a good game out of Hurst because the last couple of nights, they jumped out ahead of us. Most nights, we just hope we can stay close enough, get a base hit, base hit, and then get a run.
“When you’re up in a game, you can be more aggressive. You can make the plays that you might not try in a game when you’re behind.”