Kevin Mitchell was surprised when Manager Larry Bowa gave him the green light on a 3-and-0 pitch. But an even bigger surprise came a moment later when Garry Templeton hit his first home run in almost a year.
Both Mitchell and Templeton have been struggling at the plate. But they came to life in the seventh inning of the Padres' 10-4 victory over the San Francisco Giants Saturday before a season-high Sports Bag night crowd of 50,494 fans at San Diego Jack Murphy Stadium.
Mitchell's two-out single in the seventh tied the score at 4-4, and Templeton's two-run homer to left-center--his first homer since June 30, 1986--gave the Padres the lead for good.
The Padres were trailing, 4-3, with Shane Mack at third and two outs in the seventh. Right-handed reliever Jeff Robinson replaced left-hander Keith Comstock with Mitchell coming to the plate.
During his brief career, Mitchell has hit primarily against left-handers, but Bowa was not about to pinch-hit for him. Instead, with a 3-0 count, he gave Mitchell the green light.
"I was surprised," Mitchell said. "I thank Larry for letting me swing the bat."
Mitchell lined a sinker--which he said would probably have been ball four--into left for a single.
"He's been hitting the ball pretty good for outs," Bowa said. "If he pops it up, I look like a fool. But I think Kevin Mitchell will be a good hitter. Maybe something like this will get him started."
On Friday night, Mitchell made a key throwing error. On Saturday, he got a key hit.
"I'm trying to get used to the right-handers," Mitchell said. "I haven't been aggressive on right-handers. I told Deacon (Jones, Padre batting coach) I'll go up and swing like I do against left-handers."
After Mitchell tied the game, Templeton stepped to the plate. On his previous at-bat, Templeton left the bases loaded when he was called out on strikes.
This time, he came up swinging. On Robinson's first pitch, Templeton hit a home run.
"What I wanted to do was hit the ball hard to the opposite field," Templeton said. "It was a fastball out over the plate. He gave me what I was looking for and I got some good wood on it."
One inning later, Benito Santiago got some good wood on a 3-1 pitch from Mike LaCoss and blasted it over the left-center field fence for a three-run homer.
"He (Santiago) gave me a glare when I didn't let him hit 3 and 0," Bowa said.
Lance McCullers, who lost Friday's game when he allowed five runs in 1 innings, pitched scoreless eighth and ninth innings. Bowa said he came back with McCullers because Goose Gossage felt a little stiff.
For 6 1/2 innings, it was actually a close game.
The Padres scored in the first for the eighth straight game when Carmelo Martinez drove in Gwynn with a two-out single to right.
A most unlikely source gave the Giants a 2-1 lead in in the third. Pitcher Jim Gott--hitless in eight at-bats this season and a .161 lifetime hitter--sent Andy Hawkins' first pitch deep over the fence in right-center field. It was the fourth career home run for Gott.
Hawkins, who has allowed the third-most home runs on the Padres' staff--behind Ed Whitson and Eric Show--gave up his 12th homer of the season to catcher Bob Brenly in the fifth. Brenly smashed a 1-1 pitch over the fence in left-center for his fourth homer of the season.
The Giants led, 3-1, going into the fifth, but Gott had lasted only six and four innings in his two previous starts, and had thrown a lot of pitches in the first four innings Saturday.
After leaving five runners on base in the first four innings, the Padres pushed across a couple of runs in the fifth. Gwynn drove in a run with a single to center, and a wild pitch by Gott enabled Tim Flannery to score from third. The Padres left the bases when Comstock, in relief of Gott, struck out Templeton on three pitches. Randy Ready pinch-hit for Hawkins to lead off the sixth. Hawkins, who has failed to go more than six innings in his last five starts, allowed four hits and three runs.
Jimmy Jones came on in the seventh for the Padres. Three pitches later, Chili Davis--batting left-handed--blasted a home run over the 405-mark in center to give the Giants a 4-3 lead.
The Giants hit three home runs, but it was the two home runs by the Padres that led the team to their seventh win in the last eight games.
"It boosted everyone when he (Bowa) didn't come in after last night's (Friday) loss hollering," Mitchell said. "That's the type of manager Davey Johnson was. He (Bowa) said, 'Get them tomorrow.' That was great to see."
So was Mitchell's single on a 3-0 pitch and Templeton's first home run in almost a year.
Padre Notes First baseman John Kruk made his first start since June 12 after having soreness in his right knee. Carmelo Martinez, who has hit in six of his last seven games, moved from first to left field. "Whatever happens, happens," Martinez said. "I just go out there and try to have fun." . . . Tim Flannery was itching to get back into the starting lineup Saturday. "My last start was four left-handers and two off days ago," said Flannery, who made two excellent defensive plays Saturday. Despite a Giant hit-and-run play, Flannery's quick throw on Chili Davis' one-hopper started a double play in the second, and he made a diving backhand stop and threw out Will Clark in the third. . . . Tony Gwynn had two singles and a triple to raise his league-leading average to .368 and hit total to 89. It was the eighth time this season Gwynn has picked up three or more hits in a game and he has hit .451 in his last 19 games.