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Hoyt Pitches Padres to 9-1 Win Over Astros

Times Staff Writer

Thin is in with LaMarr Hoyt, and not just for reasons of vanity.

The Padre right-hander, who has dropped some 35 or 40 pounds since last season, looks better, moves better, thinks better and--most important--throws better.

With Hoyt on the mound Monday night, changing speeds on his fastball and getting by nicely despite permitting 11 hits, the Padres opened a three-game series against the Houston Astros with a 9-1 victory.

This was supposed to be an early season showdown between the defending National League champions and their most likely challengers. Evidently, Houstonians know something the Padres don’t, because only 10,700 attended the game at the Astrodome.

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“The people here just aren’t responding to their ballclub, and I hate to see it,” Padre Manager Dick Williams said. “I believe Houston is the team we’ll fight for the championship, and I don’t mean any disrespect to other teams.”

The Padres were led by Tony Gwynn and Terry Kennedy, who had three hits apiece and drove in five runs between them, and Kevin McReynolds, who extended his hitting streak to 10 games and 30 of 32.

Hoyt (7-4), pitching his third straight complete game, got his fifth consecutive victory. Hoyt equalled the 1984 team-leading total of three complete games by Dave Dravecky, Eric Show and Tim Lollar.

The Padres extended their lead in the National League West to 4 1/2 games over the Astros and the Cincinnati Reds.

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The Padres have won 11 of their last 13 road games, giving them an 18-11 record away from home. There are 10 games left on this trip.

The Padres are having lots of fun as their lead mounts and their confidence grows.

“I think we’re a lot better team than last year,” Gwynn said.

“The only area we don’t match up in is speed, but the way we are hitting the ball, speed doesn’t make much difference. We’re playing with confidence and controlled aggressiveness.”

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If the Padres are truly a better team than last year as Gwynn suggested, one big reason is Hoyt.

Perhaps that should read, one slimmed-down reason.

“I’m throwing as well as I ever have in my life,” Hoyt said as he sat at his locker, sipping a light beer and ignoring the enormous ice packs taped to his right shoulder and elbow.

“Since I lost the weight, I feel more mobile and more energetic and I think I’m thinking better, too. Since I’m in better condition, the quality of my pitches is up.”

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Hoyt said he threw mostly fastballs, as dictated by the Padres’ big early lead. The only fastball he regretted was the one ex-Padre Jerry Mumphrey pulled to right for his third homer.

The Padres got five runs in the third inning off loser Bob Knepper (6-2). They added single runs in the sixth and eighth innings, sandwiched around two runs in the seventh.

With 15 hits for the night and 62 for the trip, the Padres are making it look sublimely easy.

“I like pitching when I have a good lead,” Hoyt said, “but I really don’t like pitching indoors. It’s hard to catch your breath when you get extended.”

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Another thing Hoyt likes is his pursuit of Andy Hawkins, who has 11 victories.

“I hope Hawk gets 27 or 28,” Hoyt said. “And maybe I would wind up with 22 or 23.”

The Padres didn’t have a pitcher with more than 15 victories last season.

With Hoyt’s complete game, Williams was able to give his bullpen a day of rest. Goose Gossage and Luis DeLeon needed the day off, but the other three members of the relief corps were relatively rested, according to Williams.

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“I’m not concerned about LaMarr getting arm-weary,” Williams said. “He thrives on work.”

It was a night when few, if any problems, turned up. Gwynn, however, had one.

Hoyt may be thinking better, but Gwynn isn’t. He forgot most of his bats when the team departed from San Diego last week. Then he broke several bats over the weekend in Cincinnati, and another on his first at-bat Monday night.

Fortunately, a shipment arrived from the West Coast on Monday morning, so Gwynn is fortified for the rest of the trip.

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The Padres will send Mark Thurmond (3-3) against Mike Scott (4-2) tonight before closing out the Houston series Wednesday night with Eric Show (4-3) against Nolan Ryan (6-3).


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