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Padres Lose to Mets in 11 Frustrating Innings; They Can’t Explain It

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<i> Times Staff Writer </i>

From one corner of the Padre locker room to another, everybody was at a loss for explanations Sunday afternoon.

Craig Lefferts couldn’t explain why he let Darryl Strawberry steal two bases in the 11th inning. Lance McCullers couldn’t explain why he threw a wild pitch to let the go-ahead run score. Eric Show certainly couldn’t explain why Goose Gossage always seems to let Show’s runners score when Gossage comes on in relief.

Furthermore, Manager Steve Boros and Steve Garvey were at a loss to explain why the Padres continue to leave runners in scoring position.

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And speaking of losses, the Padres suffered another one to the New York Mets in a game that San Diego easily could have won. The score in 11 innings: Mets 4, Padres 2.

“Well, I’m open for suggestions, men,” Boros said to the media. “I don’t know where to begin talking about that mess.”

The “mess” began when Strawberry led off the 11th inning with a one-handed single to center with the score tied, 2-2.

After Rafael Santana popped a bunt to first, Strawberry stole second on Lefferts’ second pitch to Mookie Wilson.

“He (Strawberry) had to be guessing,” Lefferts said. “As soon as I lifted my leg, he was gone. There was nothing in my move he could have picked up to get that good of a jump.”

If Lefferts thinks Strawberry was guessing, Strawberry thinks Lefferts should guess again. Strawberry says there is no such thing as guessing when it comes to stealing bases.

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With Strawberry on second, Wilson walked. Then, Strawberry got an extremely good jump toward third as part of a successful double steal.

Lefferts knew it was a no-no. He has been working recently with pitching coach Galen Cisco in regard to holding runners on base.

“I didn’t think Strawberry would steal again,” Lefferts said. “I have to give him a couple of looks at second base, and I didn’t do it right.”

When Lefferts next looked at catcher Bruce Bochy, Boros had ordered an intentional walk of Howard Johnson to load the bases. Boros then walked to the mound and gave Lefferts his walking papers for the day in favor of McCullers.

With the bases loaded, McCullers wanted to keep the ball low and away from Ed Hearn. The third pitch was too low and too away--a wild pitch that got away from Bochy, allowing Strawberry to score the winning run.

“I was trying to keep the ball down,” McCullers said. “I didn’t want to throw a pitch that low, but I did.”

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After Hearn walked to again load the bases, the Mets proved that things can go right even when they go wrong. Pitcher Jesse Orosco was asked to bunt but he failed to execute on the first two strikes. Then, when Orosco swung away, he scored Wilson with a sacrifice fly to right.

Three innings earlier, Show had been denied in his bid for Victory No. 4. However, it was more of Gossage’s doing than Show’s.

When Show allowed a leadoff single in the eighth to Wally Backman while leading, 2-1, he was removed by Boros. Gossage threw a wild pitch, allowing Backman to reach second. Backman reached third on a Keith Hernandez grounder. Backman scored the tying run on Strawberry’s single, and Show was fit to be tied because he could no longer get a victory.

In Show’s previous start, he had beaten Philadelphia, 4-3. Show left that game with the bases loaded and Gossage allowed all three runners to score. But Gossage escaped the inning without any of his runners scoring.

Show (3-2) has become accustomed to seeing Padre relievers let his runners--and victories--slip away.

“I don’t know how to explain it,” he said. “Sometimes I think to myself it can’t be this hard. I keep thinking it will break. After a couple of years, your patience starts to wane.”

Boros said he thought Show was tired Sunday because he threw 111 pitches. Show said he thought he could throw 150 pitches on a day when he has super stuff. According to Show, he did not have “super stuff” Sunday. When asked if he could have gone longer, Show gave it that “what do you think?” look.

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“I didn’t dispute what he (Boros) did,” Show said. “If I had thrown 150 pitches, Galen Cisco’s theory is that I may not have been ready for my next couple of starts. Galen’s theory may be right. . . . If this trend continues, he may go longer with me next time.”

The Padres, who stranded 14 runners in Saturday’s 5-4 loss, continued the trend. They stranded eight runners, and most were left on base in critical situations.

In the seventh, Tim Flannery struck out with Marvell Wynne on second. In the eighth, Kevin McReynolds grounded to third with Tony Gwynn on second. In the ninth, shortstop Santana leaped to catch Flannery’s liner with two men on.

“If things were going well for us, Tim’s ball would have fallen in,” Garvey said.

In the 10th, the Padres could have used a two-out hit from Garvey. But instead, with runners on first and third, Garvey grounded into a fielder’s choice.

Since Garvey’s home run Friday night, he has gone 0 for 11. In Saturday’s game, he left eight runners on base.

“I’ve hit the ball right at somebody every time,” he said. “I’ve gone through this before, and I’ll probably go through it again.”

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The way things are going, the Padres are seeking answers, not explanations.

Padre Notes

Tony Gwynn stole a career-high three bases Sunday. He had stolen two bases on four other occasions. Gwynn stole two bases in the bottom of the 10th, but New York’s Darryl Strawberry became a copycat in the top of the 11th. . . . Without any right-handed batters on the bench, the Padres pinch-hit Terry Kennedy against Jesse Orosco in a left-hander versus left-hander situation in the 10th. Kennedy struck out. “I’m not going to fault the 24-man-roster rule for our losses the last two days,” Manager Steve Boros said. “We had plenty of chances to score.” . . . Carmelo Martinez was again booed when he let an Ed Hearn fly ball drop in left field in the seventh. Martinez was booed when he batted in the bottom of the seventh, then cheered when he hit a single. Marvell Wynne came on as a pinch-runner for Martinez, a customary late-inning move by Boros. . . . The Padres are 4-3 in extra-inning games. The Mets are 2-3.

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