The curse that had infested Padre bats of late finally met its match Friday night.
The seven runs are the most the Padres have scored in a game this season and are just two fewer than they scored on their entire seven-game trip, which was just completed. It was a streak of frustration that had Manager Larry Bowa looking to the heavens for answers.
Maybe Nancy Reagan was right, Bowa had mused. Maybe astrology was the answer.
Well the stars were out in full force in a cloudless sky Friday night, and although Bowa mentioned nothing about his horoscope after the victory, he did humorously note his team's good fortune on what is supposed to be one of the bad-luck days of the year.
"Maybe we need more Friday the 13ths," Bowa said, smiling.
Or how about just a few more games like the one pitcher Jimmy Jones and left fielder Carmelo Martinez put together against the Expos.
Jones allowed just 5 hits, walked 3 and struck out 5 in his first complete game since last Sept. 12 against Houston. Martinez, who entered the game batting .148, was 3 for 4, including a two-run homer and a run-scoring double.
"I wasn't swinging at bad pitches," Martinez said of his early-season troubles. "I just wasn't hitting the ball hard. Now the ball is jumping off the bat, and hopefully it will find some holes."
The Padres' hitting outburst was a welcome change for Jones (3-4), who is but one of what has become almost a rotation of hard-luck pitchers. The Padres had scored just 10 runs in his six previous starts.
"I knew it had to turn around soon," Jones said. "We had been hitting the ball but just not getting any breaks. One or two inches either way and it's a hit, but we've been hitting it right at someone every time."
The upshot has been that Padre pitchers have had to be near-perfect almost every game. Jones was perfect through three innings before he walked Tim Raines to start the fourth. After Johnny Paredes flied out to right, Hubie Brooks got the first hit off Jones on a line single to right.
Third baseman Graig Nettles, making only his third start of the season, then stroked a single near the Expo bullpen in right to score Raines with the first run of the game and move Brooks to third. But Jones got out of further trouble by getting first baseman Andres Galarraga to ground into a double play.
That would be the Expos' lone run of the game. And for a while it seemed as if it might be enough.
The Padres showed little inclination to break out of their slumping ways through the first five innings, managing only two-out singles by Shawn Abner in the second and Martinez in the fourth.
The lack of hitting has been a season-long frustration for the Padres, but this early trouble had an embarrassing element all its own. Expo pitcher John Dopson was making his first start since being recalled from their triple-A team in Indianapolis for the second time this season May 9. Dopson, who had lost his only two previous major league decisions, had spent almost all of his first six seasons in the minors, including last season at double-A Jacksonville, Fla.
Dopson, however, faced a jerry-rigged Padre lineup that Bowa has been forced to use because of injuries that kept Chris Brown (wrist), Tony Gwynn (hand) and Keith Moreland (shoulder) out of the lineup. That led Bowa to try catcher Benito Santiago at cleanup for the first time. His logic was simple.
"He's got the most homers (three) and most RBIs (11)," Bowa said. "I might as well try him."
The experiment did not work at first, as Santiago grounded into a double play after Garry Templeton and John Kruk had walked to open the sixth.
Dopson got himself right back in trouble by walking Randy Ready to put runners on first and third.
Martinez then bounced a double off the left-field wall to score Ready and tie the score at 1-1 and chase Dopson. Andy McGaffigan came on in relief, but immediately yielded a two-run single to center fielder Shane Mack that gave the Padres a 3-1 lead.
Abner was intentionally walked before Jones grounded out to short to end the inning.
The three-run inning was the Padres' first multi-run inning since a two-run ninth in Pittsburgh Sunday, a stretch of 46 innings. The Padres had scored only one run in their previous 30 innings.
A two-out walk was the start of the Expos' troubles in the seventh as Kruk drew his third base on balls of the game. Santiago then dropped a ball over first base that caught right fielder Hubie Brooks off guard. Santiago headed for second without hesitation, and Kruk scored as Brooks had trouble scooping up the ball. Ready then drove home Santiago on a liner into the right-field corner that bounded deep into the Expo bullpen for a triple.
Martinez got his third consecutive hit. This time blasting a home run over the left-field fence for a 7-1 Padre lead.
The Padres' previous high scoring total was six runs in victories at San Francisco (6-4) April 10 and against Pittsburgh (6-3) April 29.
"Finally," Martinez said, "We needed a game like that."
The oft-injured Chris Brown has a new ailment--tendinitis in his right wrist. Brown, who has not played since he was removed in the second inning against St. Louis Tuesday because of a cyst on his right hand, said he developed the tendinitis in Pittsburgh last weekend. His status is day to day, but Brown said he might be available to pinch-hit and hopes to be back in the lineup by Sunday. Brown tried hitting off a tee Friday but quit in pain after a few swings. . . . Keith Moreland, who has struggled at the plate, did not start Friday because of a sore left shoulder and probably will be used only as a pinch-hitter this weekend, Manager Larry Bowa said. "Keith isn't someone who will ask to come out, but I could see the shoulder was bothering him," Bowa said. "I told him to take two or three days off and just rest it." . . . Utility infielder Tim Flannery took batting practice Friday for the first time in two weeks, but he will not come off the 15-day disabled list when he is eligible today, Bowa said. Flannery was placed on the disabled list April 29 because of a sore ankle ligament. "I don't want to rush it," Flannery said. "I thought I would be ready after two weeks, but I'm not."
PADRES AT A GLANCE
Expos--Raines walked. Paredes flied to right. Brooks singled to right, Raines to third. Nettles singled to right, Raines scoring and Brooks to third. Galarraga grounded into a double play. One run, two hits, one left.
Padres--Templeton and Kruk walked. Santiago grounded into a double play, Templeton to third. Ready walked. Martinez doubled to left, Templeton scoring, Ready to third. McGaffigan relieved Dopson. Mack singled to right, Ready and Martinez scoring. Mack stole second. Abner was intentionally walked. McGaffigan balked, Mack to third and Abner to second. Jones grounded to first. Three runs, two hits, two left.
Padres--With two out, Kruk walked. Santiago doubled to right, Kruk scoring. Ready tripled to right, Santiago scoring. Martinez homered to right, his second. Mack flied to right. Four runs, three hits.