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Padres Fall Apart in the Eighth, Lose to Cardinals, 10-6

Times Staff Writer

Out of nowhere, Padre-itis struck again. Here they were, leading the St. Louis Cardinals by a run in the eighth inning Wednesday night. And everything seemed swell for the Padres because ace reliever Lance McCullers was taking the mound.

But soon McCullers would need an Ace bandage--not so much for his arm, but for a bruised ego. McCullers gave up four runs and the ballgame, as the Padres lost, 10-6, at Busch Stadium.

So jinxed are they that Tony Gwynn was hit smack in the right cheek by a coin as he chased a Willie McGee fly ball in that fateful eighth inning. He flinched for a second, and that ruined any chance of making the catch. McGee eventually scored the winning run.

So jinxed are they that starting pitcher Andy Hawkins walked two relatively average hitters--Ozzie Smith and Terry Pendleton--in the third inning. And later that inning, after a Garry Templeton error, Hawkins threw a wild pitch with the count 0-2 to McGee, which enabled Smith to score from third. Hawkins also surrenderred two hits to Cardinal pitcher Danny Cox, who was been 0 for his last 43.

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So jinxed are they that Templeton committed not one, but two errors Wednesday. Just the other night here, Templeton had had two hits and had played flawlessly in the field. Cardinal Manager Whitey Herzog--Templeton former manager and former enemy--saw him by the elevator afterward and said: “Great game, Garry.”

But, one day later, Templeton played his worst game. His first error, in the fourth, helped keep that rally alive. Hawkins had walked Smith and Pendleton when Cardinal first baseman Jack Clark dribbled a double-play ball right at Templeton. He fielded it well enough, but he turned so fast to throw to second, he bobbled the ball. Since it was too late to throw to second, he turned toward first, but said first base umpire Eric Gregg--not a small human being--was in the way.

Later, in the seventh inning, when the Cardinals were leading 4-2, Templeton booted a two-out ground ball that resulted in the fifth Cardinal run.

“I really think this park is a jinx for me,” Templeton said later. “Ever since I left the Cardinals (St. Louis traded him to San Diego in 1981), I’ve been hit in the face and nearly broke my ankle. And now this. Get me out of here!”

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Still, the Padres kept fighting. Trailing 5-2, they scored four runs to lead, 6-5. Catcher Benito Santiago and pinch-hitter Randy Ready each had RBI singles, and Kevin Mitchell hit a two-run pinch-hit single off Cardinal ace reliever Todd Worrell. Mitchell won a game for the Mets last year with a single off Worrell, and it appeared as if history were repeating itself.

And history sort of did repeat itself--the Padres fell apart.

In that eighth inning, McCullers--who had earned a save Tuesday night--gave up a triple to Clark right away. Actually, it should have been a home run. Clark had lifted a ball to deep right-center, and replays showed it reached the stands. But a fan, wearing a baseball glove, dropped the home-run ball. Second base umpire Gerry Davis ruled the ball was in play, and Clark had to settle for a triple. If the fan had had good hands and caught it, it would have been a home run. But the Cardinals still trailed by a run.

“We could have ended up with nothing and lost the game,” said Clark, who hit his 200th career homer earlier in the night off Hawkins. “A lot of people would have been (angry).”

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McGee followed with a long fly ball to right-center, which ended up as a double and scored Clark. Gwynn was giving chase when he was nailed by the coin--a quarter. He eventually hurled the quarter hard back into the stands.

“They (the fans) took it out on me, as if it was my fault (that Davis ruled Clark’s fly ball a triple),” Gwynn said. “That ain’t fair. I can’t go up there and kick their butts. One or two, maybe, but not 1,000 of them.”

McCullers then gave up the game-winning RBI to pinch-hitter Curt Ford, who blooped a single to shallow right. Second baseman Joey Cora barely missed catching it, and right fielder Gwynn made an accurate throw to the plate. The ball beat McGee to the plate, but it bounced in front of Santiago, who had to scoop it up. His swinging tag just missed McGee, who scored standing up. Santiago and Manager Larry Bowa argued, but nothing changed. The Cardinals led, 7-6.

At that point, Dave Dravecky replaced McCullers, but he gave up singles to Vince Coleman and Pendleton, stretching the lead to four runs. The Padres are still bound in last place, their record 6-16.

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Afterward, Santiago complimented McCullers. He said McCullers threw hard.

McCullers shook his head and blurted: “I didn’t throw nothin’ hard. I’ve got nothing to say.”

And he left.

Padre Notes Reliever Tom Gorman doesn’t mind going to Triple-A, but he minds the circumstances. The Padres sent Gorman to Las Vegas on Tuesday, but Gorman says he has a sore muscle near his elbow. Under major league rules, a player can’t be sent down while he’s injured. But Jack McKeon, the Padre general manager, says he didn’t know Gorman was injured. He did know there was stiffness in Gorman’s elbow, but McKeon said: “What pitcher doesn’t get that?” Gorman said he began feeling stiffness in the arm on April 13, but McKeon said there were two games after April 13 when Gorman threw and didn’t mention any pain. According to team sources, McKeon is upset that Gorman mentioned the pain only when he had bad outings. Gorman’s response: “One thing I’m not is a liar. It hurts a little that they would actually think I’m (faking) an injury. If I’m hurt, I’m hurt. . . . What this shows me is I’m not in their plans. This leaves a terrible taste. I know one thing, I have 24, 25 guys behind me. Because, tomorrow, it could be one of them.” Gorman leaves today for San Diego, where he will be examined by several doctors. If it’s determined he is injured, he might go on the disabled list. If not, he will go to Las Vegas. And there’s always the chance he could file a grievance against the team. . . . Pitcher Jimmy Jones took Gorman’s place on the roster Wednesday. Jones was 2-0 at Las Vegas but was surprised to be called up because he just had his worst outing of the year Monday night, giving up eight runs in a Las Vegas victory. “That was weird,” he said. Jones, who will work in long relief, says he’s a completely different pitcher from spring training. He says he’s challenging hitters better and isn’t so tentative. “I have no thoughts of going back (to Las Vegas).” . . . Goose Gossage (rib injury) is now eligible to come off the disabled list, but said he probably won’t until the Padres return home next week. “I can still feel it a little bit,” Gossage said Wednesday, “but it’s a lot better. I’m still not following through, and you don’t want to alter your motion because you can injure something else. If I can’t go 100%, if I can’t go all out, I’m not ready.” . . . Center fielder Stan Jefferson said Wednesday he will try running on his sprained left ankle this weekend in Chicago and expects to be back in action May 4 when the Padres open a home stand against Pittsburgh. . . . Catcher Benito Santiago threw out Cincinnati speedster Eric Davis trying to steal second last week, and Padre coach Greg Riddoch says it took Santiago 1.68 seconds to get the ball out of his glove and to second base. Riddoch says a good major league catcher takes 1.9 seconds to get the ball to second. “What Benny did? That’s as good as I’ve seen,” Riddoch said. Santiago says he wants a shot at St. Louis’ Vince Coleman. “He hasn’t tried going on me yet,” Santiago said Wednesday. . . . Larry Bowa on managing: “I’ll give it every ounce of my guts. If at some point I can’t do that, I’ll quit. My dad used to tell me, ‘If you do something, don’t do it half.’ That’s been pounded into me forever. My dad is still like that. He calls me now and says, ‘What’s going on with your team?’ I say, ‘Dad, I’m trying.’ He’s my toughest critic. You know it’s more frustrating losing when you’re a manager. When you went into a slump as a player, you could spend time in the cage, take a million grounders. As a manager, what can you do? You feel as if your hands are tied.”

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