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Padres Win, Keep Trying for Miracle

Times Staff Writer

It was supposed to be the night that the Padres were laid to rest and buried, remember?

Why, after the funeral-like atmosphere in the clubhouse Monday night when they lost to the Cincinnati Reds, allowing the San Francisco Giants to clinch a tie for the division title, surely these Padres knew the fight was over.

Well, if they indeed wanted the Reds to believe that Tuesday, they blew their cover early.

If the Padres thought they were out of it, why were on the field early Tuesday afternoon, actually taking extra batting practice?

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If they thought they were out of it, then why just four minutes into what ended as a 3-1 victory was Padre Manager Jack McKeon already telephoning his bullpen, unwilling to risk a single run?

If they thought they were out of it, then why in the seventh inning was Mark Davis, their bullpen stopper, already in the game?

And if they thought they were out of it, then why at 10 o’clock were the Padres asking everyone around: “Do you believe in miracles?”

The Padres, believe it or not, still are alive.

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The Padres beat the Reds Tuesday night, then sat on the edge of their seats for the next 45 minutes watching the Dodgers hang onto a 2-1 victory over the Giants.

The combination moved the Padres within four games of the Giants since June 7, and now, the Padres are asking for help just one last time.

“We’re begging, we’re begging,” Tony Gwynn said.

All the Padres are asking of the Dodgers is to beat the Giants one more time. Please. If the Dodgers come through, and the Padres defeat the Reds again tonight, the showdown begins Friday.

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It still borders on the impossible. The Giants just have to win one of their final four games to eliminate all of this nonsense, and the Padres have to win them all just to force a one-game playoff on Monday.

Impossible?

Hmm, then why was Tony Siegle, Padre vice president of player personnel, telephoning the National League office asking when the coin flip would take place.

Yeah, that’s right, the coin flip to decide where the one-game playoff would take place.

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“Oooh, can you believe it,” Siegle said.

Funny, what a difference 24 hours can make.

“It’s funny,” Gwynn said. "(Monday) night when I was going home, I was thinking, well, at least we don’t have to see them win it down here. Maybe it’s for the best. I didn’t want to go through what happened two years ago when they clinched it in front of us.

“That was just miserable. As you’re walking to your car, there was champagne on your rug. You heard them screaming and yelling. I just thought, ‘Hey, I don’t need to see that again.’

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“But when I was coming to the park today, ‘I’m thinking, ‘I don’t care, let them come here and try to win it. I just want a shot at them. That’s all we’re asking. We just have to hope L.A. can handle them, and we take ‘em on down here with everything at stake.”

And then?

“Well, maybe with 60,000 screaming people in the stands . . . maybe there’ll be enough excitement generated. . . . maybe. . . . I don’t know, we’re begging right now.”

Said third baseman Mike Pagliarulo: “Right now, I’m not even thinking about them winning it. All I want is for us to give a shot at them here. Then, whatever happens, happens. But give us that shot.”

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The Padres, who have 27 of their last 35 games, have vowed that if the Giants indeed do win the division title, it will have to be earned with a victory.

“We’re forcing them to win it on their own,” McKeon said. “But I’ll tell you what. No matter what happens. No matter if we win this thing. No matter if the Giants win. I’m more proud of this team than any I’ve ever managed.”

Rasmussen (10-10), whose first-inning woes have been well-documented this season, certainly came through in his duties, although Mark Grant was warming up after Rasmussen faced just his second batter.

Sure, McKeon has called the bullpen thousands of times this season, and considering that Rasmussen has just one complete game in 33 starts this season, he’s called the bullpen plenty of times with Rasmussen on the mound.

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But calling at 7:09 p.m.?

“Let’s just say I was concerned,” McKeon said.

Let’s also say McKeon was not about to allow the Giants to win the division title on their failure. They would have to win it on their own on this night.

After Rasmussen gave up a game-opening single to Dave Collins, and a four-pitch walk to Luis Quinones, McKeon was on the phone.

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Unfortunately for Rasmussen, McKeon’s memory still was vivid of his last start against the Reds that last all of seven pitches. Five of those pitches were stroked for hits. And the Padres’ 6-0 lead after one-half inning turned into 6-5.

Considering that Rasmussen had yielded two doubles to the last two batters he faced in his Sept. 15 start against the Giants, he had faced nine nine consecutive batters without retiring anyone.

Working quickly before allowing McKeon a chance to pull him, Rasmussen induced a double-play ball from Eric Davis, and got out of the jam when Todd Benzinger struck out.

Not only did Rasmussen hang around until two outs in the seventh, but he allowed just two more hits and two walks after the first inning.

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Mark Davis came on in relief with one run in, a runner on first base, and two outs.

Davis struck out pinch-hitter Joel Youngblood, and two innings later, still had not allowed a hit, recording his major league leading 43rd save. He has 12 saves in his last 12 attempts and 25 in his last 26, not allowing a run in his last 21 1/3 innings.

“I think he deserves the Cy Young,” Eric Davis said, “because right now he’s the best pitcher in the league. And that award symbolizes the best pitcher in the league, and he’s the best. When you look at the total innings pitched (89 1/3), with his ERA (1.91), and his 43 saves, you’ve got to be dealing.”

The Padres, in the meantime, got all of the offense they needed in the fourth inning on solo home runs by Jack Clark and Benito Santiago. For Clark, it was his 26th of the season, just one fewer than he hits last season with the Yankees. For Santiago, it was his 16th homer of the season, his 10th since Aug. 21.

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After the Reds scored an unearned run in the seventh, Gwynn ended his zero-for-10 slide with a run-scoring double in the eighth, and the Padres were back to scoreboard watching.

“Can you believe it?” Gwynn asked.

Padre Notes

Shortstop Garry Templeton is scheduled to undergo left knee surgery next week at the Scripps Clinic to remove a piece of cartilage. The surgery will keep him inactive for three weeks when he then will begin rehabilitation. “I wanted to have it done as soon as the season ended so I’d have five months to get ready for next season,” Templeton said. “The doctors say the piece of cartilage has been irritating my knee and causing it to be inflamed. I probably wouldn’t have known that if I hadn’t had my knee X-rayed recently. It was the first time since 1983 I even had X-rays on my knees.” . . . The Padres have an option on Templeton’s contract for the 1990 season. Although they have yet to exercise it, Tony Siegle, vice president of personnel, said the Padres have been pleased with Templeton’s performance this season. Templeton, who entered Tuesday’s game batting .256, has played in 140 games this season, the fifth time in the past six seasons that he has played at least 140 games.

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