LOS ANGELES -- Bob Welch realizes there's no chance he'll overhaul Hank Aaron and his record 755 major league home runs. Welch is a pitcher. He just doesn't play enough.
Welch broke up a scoreless pitching duel with Mario Soto in the sixth inning Friday night by hitting his first career home run, lifting the Los Angeles Dodgers to a 1-0 victory over the Cincinnati Reds.
Soto had held the Dodgers to two hits and allowed only one runner as far as second base on an error before Welch hit a 1-1 pitch into the left field stands.
Welch recorded his fifth victory against six losses by tossing a six-hitter for his third complete game and third shutout of the season.
But it's the homer people will remember.
'I can't recall ever hitting a home run,' Welch said. 'I may have had one in Little League. I don't think anyone was more surprised than I was. I didn't watch the ball go out, I just hit it and started running. I hadn't hit a ball that far in my life.
'My job is pitching. I take pride in trying to hit, but pitchers only get a few swings and hitting is difficult for me. I'm happy as hell the ball went over the fence. In fact, I would have been real happy just to get on base.'
Welch then proceeded to virtually guarantee he'll never hit another homer, unless it's off a pitcher who can't read.
'The only time I can get a hit is when they throw the ball inside, and he threw it there,' the honest Welch said.
Soto, who beat Los Angeles at Cincinnati last week 3-1 in another battle with Welch, allowed only five hits and struck out eight in slipping to 8-5.
'It doesn't matter how you lose, 1-0 or 7-6, it's whether you win or lose,' said Soto. 'The pitch to Welch was a fastball, the same as I threw to everyone else. But he hit it. It was not a bad pitch.'
The Reds got their best scoring opportunity in the fourth inning when Duane Walker and Paul Householder singled and Wayne Krenchicki walked to load the bases. But Alex Trevino flied out to end the threat.
'Soto pitched a real fine game, but so did Welch,' said Cincinnati manager Russ Nixon, who watched his hapless Reds fall to 27-37 and deeper into the National League West cellar. 'We made one mistake and the ball got hit out.
'We're going to have to fight our way out of our slumps. We've been getting good pitching, but we're not scoring any runs. But we'll come out of this.'