The Padres finished the 1988 season Sunday on a number of positive notes:
--They beat the Astros, 5-1.
--Dennis Rasmussen (16-10), who went 15-4 after being traded to San Diego from Cincinnati on June 8, scattered nine hits and ignited a two-run fifth inning with a single.
--They finished the season in third place in the National League West with an 83-78 record.
--And Tony Gwynn, who sat out the game, finished the season with a .313 average to win his second consecutive league batting title.
There wasn't much joy in the Astro clubhouse, though. Houston officials issued a press release in the eighth inning stating that Manager Hal Lanier would not return for the 1989 season.
The Astros are hoping a managerial switch will have the same impact it did on the Padres. San Diego, which won only 65 games last season, went 67-48 after the firing of Manager Larry Bowa on May 28. The Padres had the best record in the West over that period.
"This is the third-best record in club history and these guys got it by battling all the way," said Manager Jack McKeon, who replaced Bowa. "I even got a call from (owner) Joan Kroc in London congratulating the guys. She sent a wire today, and it's posted on the wall.
"Where does the team go from here? We want to continue to move up, but there's a lot of work still to do," McKeon said. "It's nice to have some decisions to make."
Rasmussen, who won for the ninth time in his last 12 decisions, has firmly established his spot in the Padres' starting rotation.
"I gave everyone the feeling when I came over here that I was on the mound to win and I got credit for doing that," Rasmussen said.
Sunday, he walked 2 and struck out 3 in recording his seventh complete game of the season. He also helped the Padres grab a 2-0 lead in the fifth off Jim Deshaies (11-14). Rasmussen led off with a single and scored on Dickie Thon's triple to right-center. Roberto Alomar followed with a double to drive in Thon.
Thon went 3 for 5, raising his average to .257. He thinks he's finally all the way back after being hit in the head by the Mets' Mike Torrez in 1984.
"I'm truly very happy to be back," Thon said. "I proved to everyone and myself I could still play in the big leagues."
Houston narrowed the gap to 2-1 in the sixth. Glenn Davis doubled with one out and scored on Rafael Ramirez's two-out single.
The Padres put the game away with three runs in the ninth, however, scoring on a two-run single by Randy Ready and a run-scoring single by Jerald Clark.
The Padres, who started the year 16-30, finished with their fourth winning season in their 20-year history.