You would think that when a guy hasn’t won a game since Aug. 1--which is exactly the position Mike Dunne was in as he worked his way through the first 7 1/3 innings of the Padres’ 3-2 loss to Chicago Friday--someone, somewhere would cut him a break.
But Dunne’s current situation is this: Even when it looks like he is going to get a break, he gets a kick in the gut instead. Maybe next time, kid.
And so it goes. Dunne (0-3) probably had his best start of the season in front of 43,005 in San Diego Jack Murphy Stadium for Fanny Pack night, but he got a no-decision to show for it. He left in the eighth with a 2-0 lead after allowing consecutive one-out singles to Dwight Smith and Ryne Sandberg.
Craig Lefferts took over. He walked Mark Grace to load the bases. Then Mike Pagliarulo booted Andre Dawson’s ground ball, and Smith scored. Dunne’s victory was going, going . . .
But, wait. Lefferts struck out pinch-hitter Hector Villanueva, and then Luis Salazar flied to center. The Cub threat was finished, and the Padres were breathing easy once again.
Remember, though, someone else besides Dunne is having one of those years. The Padres. And the ninth was still ahead--like a pit bull ready to attack.
Phil Stephenson pinch-hit for Lefferts in the eighth, so Greg Harris came on to start the ninth. And what looked to have been Dunne’s first victory since an 8-1 rout of California when he was with Seattle last Aug. 1 started to unravel faster than you can say “Not again.”
Harris struck out Shawon Dunston to begin the ninth, but then gave up four hits in a row--pinch-hitter Gary Varsho singled, Doug Dascenzo tripled to make it 2-2, Dwight Smith singled to drive home Dascenzo with what would be the winning run, and Ryne Sandberg followed with a single, his 1,500th career hit.
Jack Clark and Garry Templeton singled for the Padres in the ninth, but Cub Manager Don Zimmer maneuvered three pitchers--Steve Wilson, Les Lancaster and Paul Assenmacher--as the Cubs escaped. Bill Long (3-0), the second Cub pitcher, got the victory.
As for Harris (4-2), the problem was he was getting the ball up.
“Three high fastballs,” said Padre pitching coach Pat Dobson. “Varsho’s was up, Dascenzo’s wasn’t, he threw a high breaking ball to Smith and a high fastball to Sandberg.
“I just talked to him about that in the outfield (during batting practice) today. I’ve been on him about it.”
Harris had not allowed a run in his previous 12 1/3 innings before Friday.
“I didn’t get the ball down in the strike zone, and they hit it,” Harris said. “There’s not a whole lot you can say.
“It’s awfully disappointing knowing you didn’t do the job. It hurts.”
The Padres are now 35-36, their first time below .500 since May 27, when they were 21-22. They have now lost five of their past six and scored a grand total of four runs in their past 28 innings.
“We come so close every night,” Padre Manager Jack McKeon said.
Friday, they came as close as three outs. Three outs in the ninth, and they would have been laughing and talking in the clubhouse instead of dressing silently.
And then there was Dunne, who held the Cubs to one run and six hits during his 7 1/3 innings. He walked three and struck out two.
“Tonight, I felt like I did in Pittsburgh,” Dunne said. “I felt great, we got some breaks and made the plays.
“I was able to stay away from the big inning. The defense behind me made me look better.”
And behind Jack Clark’s second inning, bases-empty homer and Roberto Alomar’s sacrifice fly to left in the sixth after Bip Roberts’ triple, giving the Padres a 2-0 lead, it looked for a while like Dunne’s stuff might be enough.
One of the bigger plays of the game came in the sixth, when the Cubs narrowly missed tying the game at 1-1. Grace doubled with one out and, two batters later, Marvell Wynne flied deep to center. Carter’s throw bounced in front of and then past Templeton, the cutoff man. Grace, who had tagged up and was on his way to third, took off for home when the ball bounded away from Templeton.
Clark grabbed the ball between the mound and second base, turned and threw off-balance to home. Ronn Reynolds--making his first start for the Padres at catcher--caught it, lunged and tagged out Grace to end the inning.
That wasn’t the only defensive save credited to the Padres. Every time the Cubs threatened Dunne in the early going, he managed to get out of it--thanks in no small measure to the Padre defense.
Tony Gwynn saved him a couple of times, and when Clark threw the strike to the plate in the sixth, Dunne was beginning to feel like this really was his night.
He got two easy outs in the first before walking Grace and Dawson in succession. And at that point, Dunne wasn’t too smooth--Grace took second on a wild pitch before Dawson’s walk.
Then, Wynne sent what looked to be at least a double toward the right-center alley, but Gwynn caught up to it to end the inning.
Gwynn made an even better catch in the third, but it wasn’t as dramatic because there were two out and none on. This time, Sandberg hit a ball in the same area as Wynne’s, only harder and deeper. Just before it would have bounced off the wall, Gwynn snagged it.
And on Dunne went. In the fifth, he allowed a leadoff double to Salazar, but Salazar was thrown out at third on Dunston’s grounder to shortstop and, two batters later, Dunston was thrown out at third on pitcher Mike Harkey’s bunt to Dunne. In the seventh, Salazar, Dunston and Joe Girardi all grounded to Pagliarulo.
The Padres purchased the contract of left-hander Rich Rodriguez from Las Vegas (triple-A) and outrighted outfielder Darrin Jackson. Rodriguez, 27, was 3-4 with a 3.51 earned-run average and eight saves in Las Vegas. The move was not a surprise--Padre Manager Jack McKeon has wanted another left-handed reliever. Jackson was batting just .231 with a homer and five runs-batted in. He had played in just 30 of the Padres’ 70 games before Friday. Rodriguez was acquired by the Padres in the Kevin McReynolds trade with the New York Mets in 1987. He got word of his recall about 10 a.m. Friday when Gary Lance, Las Vegas pitching coach, telephoned. He arrived at San Diego Jack Murphy Stadium about 10 minutes before batting practice and at that point wasn’t even sure where he would spend the evening. “I don’t know,” he said. “Probably the Marriott. Someplace nice, I know.” Rodriguez made sure to introduce himself to outfielder Fred Lynn before the game--both are from El Monte. . . . Friday’s crowd of 43,005 pushed the Padres over the one million mark for the season. The current total, after 38 home dates, is 1,016,103. . . . Catcher Benito Santiago, wearing a new flat-top haircut, worked out Friday for the first time since breaking his left arm June 14. He rode the exercise bicycle and lifted dumbbells with his right arm. He was wearing a brace on his left arm, and, although he took it off to work out, he can’t do anything with the arm yet. “It feels weak,” he said, shaking his head. “It’s going to take time.” . . . Garry Templeton started at shortstop again, and McKeon said he was happy with his experiment in Houston in which Roberto Alomar started at shortstop. So where does that leave things? Templeton is still the everyday shortstop, but McKeon said he may rest Templeton a couple of games in a row now when he needs time off. And, he added, Alomar will be Templeton’s backup. . . . Catcher Mark Parent, who was given the night off by McKeon, worked on his throwing mechanics in the bullpen before batting practice. Parent failed to throw out 12 baserunners during four games in Houston. “Houston did a good job, and I screwed up,” Parent said. Pat Dobson, pitching coach, calls most of the pitches for Parent, and the Padres don’t pitch out much. “We like to slide-step,” Parent said. “I usually go with Dobber, but I could pitchout on my own. But my first job is to get hitters out. Our guys, as you saw, weren’t as sharp as normal. How can you justify calling a pitchout so I can have a better chance of throwing a guy out when guys are throwing balls?”