After he'd been given a standing ovation outside, Bruce Bochy came inside and got another one. His Padre teammates, enthralled with Bochy's two-out, 10th-inning, game-winning home run, clapped as he entered the clubhouse. At his locker, there were streamers hanging.
So there's a new Padre hero, as if there aren't enough. Bochy's homer, which came against his former team, gave San Diego a 6-5 comeback victory Monday over the Houston Astros.
It was an unlikely finish. The Padres and starter LaMarr Hoyt had floundered early. Hoyt gave up 11 hits and five runs overall. After seven innings, the Padres trailed 5-3, and Houston's Nolan Ryan, age 38, was throwing fastballs, which isn't good news for anyone holding a baseball bat.
But San Diego, which has won games behind Garry Templeton, Tony Gwynn, Tim Flannery, Steve Garvey, Kevin McReynolds, etc., scored a run in the eighth after Flannery doubled to left and scored on a Garvey ground out. In the ninth, Graig Nettles walked and Carmelo Martinez, who had homered earlier, doubled. Soon, the bases were loaded, and pinch-hitter Kurt Bevacqua hit a sacrifice fly to right, scoring pinch-runner Jerry Royster (who replaced Nettles) to send the game to extra innings.
Meanwhile, Hoyt had left and so had Mark Thurmond, who pitched two scoreless innings. Goose Gossage pitched the 10th and retired three straight batters.
In the bottom of the 10th, Manager Dick Williams' son, Mark, had leaned over to Bochy and said: "Hit one out."
Bochy, a reserve catcher who had entered the game in the ninth after starter Terry Kennedy was taken out for a pinch-runner, said: "I will."
With two outs, he stepped up. The first pitch was a fastball, which he put over the left-field fence.
After the crowd of 36,001 screamed for him, Bochy went to do a postgame radio interview. Meanwhile, Flannery was planning the postgame celebration. He made a path to Bochy's locker with some bats. He put the streamers up. Bevacqua screamed to Flannery: "That would've never happened if they didn't trade him."
The Astros had traded Bochy on Feb. 11, 1981. They sent him to the New York Mets for infielder Randy Rogers and catcher Stan Hough.
"In that situation, you've got to (think homer)," said Bochy of his third homer of the season. "I've got to get a pitch to pull . . . I wasn't sure (if it was over the fence) when I hit it, but I was going to run around the bases anyway."
Hoyt, who had won his last eight starts, had a bad night as his pitches stayed up for the most part. His first inning was a nightmare. The second batter, Craig Reynolds, singled, and the next hitter, Denny Walling, hit a ground ball which Templeton fielded. Templeton stepped on second for the apparent force play.
But Eric Gregg, the second base umpire, called a balk, which overruled the play. Walling went back to bat one more time. On the next pitch, he homered to right-center, making the score 2-0.
And Hoyt had actually balked on the home run, too, but the Astros had their choice and they decided a home run was better.
Houston scored two more runs in the second inning to make it 4-0. But Martinez hit a two-run homer, his 11th of the season, and Templeton scored on Hoyt's bunt, all this coming in the second inning.
The Astros added a run in the seventh on Reynolds' RBI double, but it wasn't over, not yet.
Padre Notes The Alan Wiggins story has gone national. Howard Cosell conducted a nationally televised interview Monday with Baltimore Oriole president Edward Bennett Williams, who said: "I don't even know what the press has been saying, but I believe he (Wiggins) deserves a another chance. I think it's a risk, a risk we're going to take. It would be a very sad thing if we excluded him from baseball. If it happened to someone in your family, would you rule him out of the family? We're going to cast that vote of confidence. And I'm satisfied he has learned his lesson and realized he has made a bad mistake."