Montreal Edges the Padres, 3-2, in a Battle of Long Ball

Times Staff Writer

Like a commuter stuck in rush-hour traffic, Steve Boros isn't satisfied with a few hits. He wants 'em to keep on coming.

Never mind that the Padres had 14 hits and scored 10 runs in their most recent outing. Never mind that San Diego batters hit .299 on their eight-game trip that concluded Wednesday night.

The Padre manager wasn't ready to pronounce it an offensive trend.

"We hit well in Chicago, but how much of that was Wrigley Field?" Boros said. "We hit well in Pittsburgh, but they have some awfully young pitchers. I want to see us sustain it over this home stand."

His point, made during batting practice Friday afternoon, was well-taken.

The Padres opened a nine-game homestand Friday night with a seven-hit performance against Joe Hesketh and Jeff Reardon of the Montreal Expos.

Two of those hits were home runs by Steve Garvey and Graig Nettles.

The Expos, however, got three long balls and won, 3-2, before a crowd of 17,870 at San Diego Jack Murphy Stadium.

A little more hitting would have suited Padre starter Andy Hawkins, who was nearly flawless for six innings before Mitch Webster and Mike Fitzgerald dispatched a couple of sliders into the bleachers.

Hawkins left in the eighth inning, having permitted five hits sandwiched around 18 straight outs.

After his departure, reliever Lance McCullers gave up a homer to Hubie Brooks for the final Montreal run.

"Hubie hit a low fastball right out of the dirt," Montreal Manager Buck Rodgers said. "He did the same thing against Fernando Valenzuela. I couldn't believe it."

Rodgers is surprised that his team is leading the National League in home runs because its park, Olympic Stadium, is the second toughest for the long ball in the league, behind Busch Stadium in St. Louis.

"We're a good-hitting club first, a home-run hitting club second," Rodgers said. "And we've been hitting good lately. You drop the bat head on the ball, it goes out of the park sometimes."

Once too often for Boros and the Padres.

"They have an explosive club," Boros said. "Andy Hawkins certainly pitched well enough to win tonight.

"I'm hoping our lack of offense was due to good pitching (by Hesketh and Reardon). I hope it's not a sign we're going to fall short in runs again (which happened earlier this season)." Neither team did much hitting at the outset.

A year ago at this time, Hawkins was 7-0, en route to an 11-0 start and eventual 18-8 record.

Hawkins went 4-0 against the Expos last year, with a 2.17 earned-run average in four starts. He picked up where he left off.

The Expos, who were leading the league in batting average, slugging percentage, triples and home runs, got only one hit in the first six innings.

After a leadoff single to left by Tim Raines in the first, Hawkins retired 18 consecutive Expos.

He had pitched very well in his last start, when he scattered five hits and walked only one in a 6-2 victory over the Cubs. Even so, he wasn't nearly as dominant as he was through six innings Friday night.

Hawkins' streak ended on a 1-1 pitch to Mitch Webster, who led off the seventh with a homer to right.

With one out the Expos loaded the bases on a single, a hit batter and an intentional walk. Hawkins then restored order by throwing a double-play ball to Vance Law.

There was further trouble for Hawkins in the eighth. Mike Fitzgerald homered to left to give Montreal a 2-1 lead.

After Hawkins retired Herm Winningham, pinch-hitting for Hesketh, Raines got his second single of the evening. Boros then lifted Hawkins and summoned Craig Lefferts.

Catcher Terry Kennedy threw out Raines after retrieving a Lefferts pitch in the dirt. Webster then grounded out to end the inning.

The Padres, meanwhile, were not exactly battering down the walls.

However, a mistake by Hesketh became Garvey's seventh homer of the season and provided the Padres a 1-0 lead in the fourth.

That was it for San Diego until Nettles pulled a Reardon pitch into the right-field seats in the ninth. It was his fourth homer of the year.

Padre Notes Bip Roberts, whose batting has improved dramatically since he began choking up and hitting line drives, won't be allowed to enter a protracted slump, according to Manager Steve Boros. "I'll sit him down if he goes something like 0 for 10," Boros said. "I don't want him to lose his confidence. But as long as he keeps his average around .260, steals some bases and plays good defense, he can be our everyday second baseman."... Carmelo Martinez, who had missed several games with a tender knee, started and went 0 for 3.

Copyright © 2019, Los Angeles Times
EDITION: California | U.S. & World