Padres Manage a Split : Baseball: For this team, winning one game of a doubleheader against the Cubs in Wrigley Field is worth a little celebration--even if a sweep was just one out away.
The Padres were laughing, slapping each other on the back and carrying on in such a way Saturday while emptying the visiting clubhouse at Wrigley Field that fans stopped and stared at them as if they were half-crazed.
Yes, folks, this was the same group of guys that had yielded an excruciating, game-winning home run in the ninth inning of one game, made two key baserunning blunders and a critical error in another, hit into seven double plays and committed three errors in all and now might be without first baseman Jack Clark for a day or two because of a wrenched back.
And it was just because they managed to split a doubleheader with the Chicago Cubs, losing the first game, 3-2, and winning the second, 6-5, in front a crowd of 33,695.
Beating the Cubs at Wrigley these days isn’t exactly a monumental achievement. Their last victory at home was on April 12, and after San Francisco, they have the second-worst home record in the National League.
The emotion of splitting with the Cubs should be similar to the euphoria Frank Sinatra experiences when told by a disc jockey that he has a pleasant voice. But criticize the feat all you want--the Padres will stand tall and set you straight.
“I don’t know if it’s a residual effect from Rush Street or what,” said Pat Dobson, the Padre pitching coach, “but there’s so many crazy things that have happened to us here that you just take it for granted after a while that something bad’s going to happen.”
Why, when Craig Lefferts was just two strikes away from wrapping up a Padre victory in the first game, then gave up a two-out, two-run homer to No. 7 hitter Shawon Dunston, the Padres were hardly fazed.
“I can’t explain it,” Padre Manager Jack McKeon said, “but in this . . . place, everything happens to us. I mean everything. We’re in every game here, it seems, but the craziest things always happen and we end up losing.
“Hey, look at me, I’m damn happy to get out of here today with a win. Damn happy.”
To understand the Padres’ ecstasy over a doubleheader split, after they were just two strikes away from a sweep, you have to look at what has happened to these guys over the years at Wrigley.
You think Richard Nixon gets skittish every time he drives past the Watergate Hotel, you should see the boys at this place.
“I didn’t know anything about it,” said center fielder Joe Carter, “until Tony (Gwynn) was telling me all of the stories. I couldn’t believe it. I told him, ‘Now, Tony, this is a new year. Things will be different.’
“Then I see Dunston hit that home run in the ninth inning, and I said, ‘Uh-oh, now I know what Tony’s talking about.’ ”
This is a team that had lost 26 of 34 games at Wrigley Field since winning the 1984 pennant. Only twice in that time did they lose a game by more than four runs. But it didn’t matter, the defeats just kept mounting.
These are the guys who made 14 errors during their six days of adventure here last year. The only game they won was one in which they committed six.
These are the guys who last year had the tying run at second, only to see Mitch Williams pick Carmelo Martinez off in the ninth, ending the game and giving Williams a save without throwing a single pitch.
These are the guys who in 1988 were intentionally walking Damon Berryhill in the ninth, with Manny Trillo on second, when Padre catcher Benito Santiago threw to second to catch Trillo off-guard. He instead caught second baseman Roberto Alomar off-guard, and Trillo scored the winning run.
“I hate this place,” Gwynn said.
So after four years, what does it take for the Padres to win on their first day in town?
--Reserve catcher Mark Parent drives in four runs, missing an opportunity to equal his career-high five when Clark leaves third base early on Parent’s potential sacrifice fly. During this time, Cub Manager Don Zimmer twice opts to pitch to Parent instead of pitcher Dennis Rasmussen.
--Rasmussen shows that Zimmer had some sense, going two for three with an RBI. He now is batting .667 (four for six) with three RBIs and a sacrifice against the Cubs and remains hitless against everyone else. He also won his first game at Wrigley in three years; his last victory here was when he was with the Cincinnati Reds.
--Third baseman Mike Pagliarulo enters the game with a .091 batting average, so the Cubs walk him three times and allow a single, raising his on-base percentage to .400.
--Reliever Greg Harris, who has pitched only three innings since April 21, goes 3 2/3 innings, yielding three hits and one run for his first save of the season.
“The way things go around here,” Parent said, “maybe it isn’t that crazy that the bottom two guys in our lineup get five RBIs. Well, I guess they already knew Raz could hit, but I’m sure they didn’t expect anything out of me.”
Parent, who entered the game with just one RBI, was a bit surprised, to put it mildly, that Cub pitcher Jose Nunez did not intentionally walk him with runners on second and third with two out and Rasmussen on deck.
He became annoyed in the fourth when there were runners on first and third with two outs, and again Zimmer had his pitcher, Les Lancaster, pitch to him instead of Rasmussen.
And in the fifth, he just stood there and laughed when Zimmer ordered pitcher Bill Long to intentionally walk shortstop Joey Cora (.211) and load the bases for Parent.
“I guess he looked at my batting average (career .038 against the Cubs) and figured, ‘He’s not going to do the job,’ ” Parent said. “That makes you concentrate a little more, it makes you more aggressive.”
Said Clark: “I couldn’t believe what he (Zimmer) was doing, but then again, I stopped figuring that guy out a long time ago.”
Parent unleashed back-to-back doubles in his first two at-bats for four RBIs, and in his third at-bat hit what appeared to be a sacrifice fly until Clark was called out leaving too soon.
“I high-fived him anyway for trying,” Parent said. “Ripper’s my man. He was just trying to get me another RBI.”
It was the first of two baserunning blunders for Clark, who had four hits in seven at-bats while wearing No. 00 on his back for the first time. On the second one, Clark, who was on second, came running across home plate in the seventh inning on what he thought was a single to right by Cora. He learned moments later that it was a mere fly ball, allowing Andre Dawson to double him up.
“Luckily, my mistakes didn’t cost us the game,” Clark said. “It wasn’t a real good day for me in the bases. But I had to take a couple of chances with the way my back was hurting.”
Clark twisted his back in the third inning of the first game when he speared a sharply hit ball down the first-base line by Dave Clark. The play saved two runs but leaving Clark in pain the rest of the game. He opted to play the second game and went all nine innings, but when his teammates left to celebrate after the doubleheader, Clark remained behind, instead choosing to soak in the whirlpool.
“I’ll be all right,” Clark said. “Just winning at this place makes you feel a whole lot better. The way things go for us here, we usually feel lucky just to leave here alive.”
Cub Manager Don Zimmer on why he elected to keep pitching to Mark Parent: “Our pitchers couldn’t throw any . . . strikes anyway, so why give them a . . . chance to walk someone . . . in.” . . . Padre Manager Jack McKeon, when asked what Craig Lefferts threw to Shawon Dunston on the home run pitch in the opener: “It went out of here too fast for me to see it.” . . . Lefferts on the pitch: “It was a backdoor slider. I was just trying to get it on the outside part of the plate, but it sailed inside. As soon as he swung, I said, ‘Instant replay.’ ” The last time Lefferts faced Dunston on April 26 in San Diego, Dunston also homered--on the same pitch, in the same location. . . . Andy Benes, who allowed five hits in seven innings in the opening game, has a younger brother, Alan, who just happens to be one of the biggest high school sports stars in Chicago. Alan is a three-sport star at Lake Forest High School, receiving several scholarship offers from Big 10 schools to play football, but he has accepted a baseball scholarship from Creighton University. “That’s what made it kind of hard with the rain-out,” Andy Benes said, “because my parents and grandparents had to make a choice to see me play or my brother.” Their choice? They were seen behind home plate Saturday at Wrigley Field. . . . Mark Parent, in honor of Chicago resident Jim McMahon, who recently was waived by the Chargers, wore an earring in his left ear and donned a Charger T-shirt with the No. 8 under his jersey. . . . Jack Clark bought a portable stereo system for the trainer’s room, unveiling his present Saturday. . . . The Padres will conclude their Chicago stay at 11:20 a.m. (PDT) today. Ed Whitson (2-1) and Mike Bielecki (0-2) are the scheduled starting pitchers.