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Padres, Carter Are No Longer Under Weather : Baseball: Outfielder ends slump with a career-high seven RBIs and hits first-inning grand slam in 13-3 victory over Giants.

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TIMES STAFF WRITER

Padre outfielder Joe Carter stood in the tunnel Monday night before the game, watching the rain fall, and listening to the griping and complaining of his teammates.

Carter just stood there and smiled.

Oh, is it raining? Hmm, a little damp? Kind of chilly, is it?

“This is my kind of weather,” Carter said. “I’m a mudder (mud-player).”

Remember, you’re talking to a guy who spent his past six seasons in Cleveland.

Carter took full advantage of the inclement weather, ending his slump with a career-high seven RBIs, including a first-inning grand slam, while carrying the Padres to a 13-3 victory over the San Francisco Giants.

Yes, this is why Padre Manager Jack McKeon traded for Carter.

Carter, trying to hide his frustrations the past two weeks, entered the game hitting .213 with one homer and six RBIs. He had left 28 runners stranded in the first 12 games, and driven in just three runs in four bases-loaded situations. Simply, this was not the Joe Carter the Padres envisioned when they made the trade.

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Greg Riddoch, Padre first-base coach, sat for nearly 30 minutes with Carter at his locker before the game, talking about what has gone wrong this season. Carter spent the rest of the time sitting in the video room, studying films of himself of a year ago, rewinding the film back and forth so many times he thought the film would break.

Earlier in the day, Carter received a phone call from buddy Phil Bradley of the Baltimore Orioles and from his father, Joe Sr. saying, they noticed while watching him on TV Sunday night that he wasn’t the same hitter as a year ago.

“I wasn’t putting my hips into it,” Carter said. “I was all upper body. I made up my mind I was going to start being aggressive.”

Carter felt good about himself when he came onto the field. He thought he had figured out his problems at the plate. At least, he felt as if he was going to have a clue when stepping to the plate.

The Giants tested his confidence early. It was the first inning. One out. The bases were loaded.

Carter watched rookie Eric Gunderson’s first pitch sail high. The second pitch was a changeup over the outside part of the plate. It landed in the first row of the left-center-field seats.

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Grand slam.

Carter’s fifth of his career, and just the beginning of the Padres’ biggest offensive night of the season.

The Padres (7-6) unleashed a season-high 17 hits, including eight by the top three batters in the order. Third baseman Bip Roberts climaxed the Padre attack with a fifth-inning home run, his fifth of his career, and his first while batting left-handed.

There were heroes everywhere in the Padre lineup: Roberts and right fielder Tony Gwynn each collecting a season-high three hits; first baseman Jack Clark tying the franchise record with four walks; center fielder Darrin Jackson collecting two RBIs; and starter Andy Benes outlasting two rain delays totalling 1 hour five minutes, and yielding just four hits over six innings.

But this entire night belonged to Joseph Chris Carter.

Carter went three for four, with a single, a double and a homer. He was up twice with the bases loaded, and delivered seven RBIs. He might have set the franchise record for RBIs, but Nate Colbert’s 1972 record of eight RBIs was left intact when McKeon cleared his bench in the seventh inning.

Still, it was the highest RBI total of any player in the big leagues this season, and boosted Carter’s RBI total to a team-leading 13.

The game was stopped twice because of rain delays, and the grounds crew was on the field four different times before the bottom of the third inning.

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The crowd of 11,315 at San Diego Jack Murphy Stadium had the pleasure of seeing a first-rate comedy show for their money by watching the 18-member grounds crew in action.

“I was going to go out there and help them myself,” Carter said. “I didn’t want to see all of those numbers go to waste.”

Granted, these guys don’t get a whole lot of practice. The Padres have not had a rainout in seven years, and their streak of 498 games without a postponement is the longest of any team with an outdoor stadium in the big leagues. But it’d be hard to find a crew who could generate more laughter than this bunch. They carried the tarp on and off the field four times on the night, and they never did get the hang of it.

Of course, there are those who’ll argue that their first attempt easily was the best. It took them nearly seven minutes to cover the infield, and when they stepped back to admire their work, they realized the tarp was at a 45-degree angle, and had to start over.

Alas, at least they had a tarp that was working. The last time it was brought out, April 20, 1983, well, let Padre pitcher Ed Whitson tell the story.

“It was the damndest thing I’ve ever seen,” Whitson said. “Now, we had been smelling something funny for the past 1 1/2 weeks, but we didn’t know where it was coming from. Then they let the tarp out, and we immediately knew where it was coming from.

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“As soon as they rolled out the tarp, out came all these skunks. There must have been four of them. Good thing they didn’t open the gates, because those skunks took off for the stands.

“But the funny thing was that smell wasn’t from the skunks. It was from that tarp. That thing was mildewed, there was moss all over it, and it stunk to the high heavens.

“There were all kinds of holes all over that thing. It never would have held up, even if they got it out there. The thing would have fallen apart.”

The Padres also had a rainout at home, their last, on Sept. 28, 1983. The Padres were playing the Dodgers in the 14th inning when the game was called. The statistics from the game counted, but the game had to be replayed.

Padre Notes

Padre pitcher Mike Dunne, who underwent off-season rotator cuff surgery, accepted a rehabiliation assignment Monday to the Padres’ triple-A club in Las Vegas. Dunne is scheduled to pitch on the side today, leave for Las Vegas on Wednesday, and start Thursday. The Padres are allowed to keep him in Las Vegas for 30 days, and then will either have to bring him up to the major-league roster or offer him back to the Seattle Mariners. “If he pitches like we think he can, he’ll be here,” Padre Manager Jack McKeon said. Said Dunne: “This is the best my arm has felt in years. It feels a lot stronger than it ever did last year, that’s for sure. I’m really looking forward to going down there and pitching, and then hopefully I’ll see everyone again in 30 days.” . . . Giants batting coach Dusty Baker predicts that Padre second baseman Roberto Alomar one day will win the National League batting title. “Just looking at him, and watching him hit, you know he’s going to be a good one, an awfully good one,” Baker said. Considering that Alomar and Tony Gwynn could be on the same team for a long time to come, Padre batting coach Amos Otis said: “As young as he (Alomar) is, and with his potential, he’s going to be battling for that batting championship real soon. Between him and Tony, we might have that batting title in this clubhouse for the next 10 years.” . . . Gwynn ordered 60 pairs of shoes from his shoe manufacturer and sent them Monday to all of the players in the Padres’ three single-A clubs. “He’s a class act,” said Tom Romenesko, Padre director/player development. “He’s doing stuff like that all the time for those kids. I remember two years ago, the season had just ended, and he was asking what time our Instructional League started so he could help our kids. He came down for four days, and wouldn’t even accept money for his own hotel and meals. Jack Clark’s the same way. He’s giving gloves to the kids in the minor leagues all the time.” . . . The Padres’ game Friday against the Pittsburgh Pirates has been moved back to 7:35 p.m. to accomodate ESPN. . . . Gwynn, on the problems the Padres’ left fielders have had with the lights this season: “Left field is real tough at night. They set the lights for fooball, and never set it back.” . . . Third baseman Eddie Williams of the Padres triple-A club in Las Vegas entered Monday’s game batting .392 with three homers and 12 RBIs in just 13 games. “Eddie Williams is doing everything we asked of him, and more,” Romenesko said. . . . Las Vegas first baseman Jeff Yurtin was selected Pacific Coast League player of the week for the first week of the season for his .364 batting average, and two home runs and seven RBIs. . . . Outfielder Alex Cole and pitcher Steve Peters of Las Vegas, perhaps the most-likely candidates to join the Padres some time this season, each are struggling in the early-going. Besides having difficulty defensively, Cole is hitting .232 with two RBIs, and Peters is 0-1 with a 7.36 ERA, yielding six hits and three runs in 3 2/3 innings. . . . Giants pitcher Randy O’Neal left the game in the second inning after suffering a strained right groin. . . . The Padres will open a three-game series against the Chicago Cubs beginning at 7:35 tonight.

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