Here Bad as There to Padres : Baseball: They lose fourth in a row as former teammate Luis Salazar breaks open a close game with a bases-loaded triple that leads Chicago to a 7-3 victory.

TIMES STAFF WRITER

Uh, maybe home isn't so sweet after all.

The Padres managed just five victories in 12 games during a recent trip that included seven games against the NL West's two worst teams--Atlanta and Houston.

Just get us home, the Padres said. One of those trips, they said.

So finally, the NL schedule said enough, it's time for these poor souls to go home.

But only the scenery has changed. A Dwight Smith home run and a three-run triple by former Padre Luis Salazar, both in the seventh inning, gave the Chicago Cubs a 7-3 victory over the reeling Padres in front of 31,852 in San Diego Jack Murphy Stadium. It was the Padres' fourth loss in a row, and sixth in seven games.

Welcome home, guys.

The Cubs had lost 12 of 17 before arriving in San Diego, but they now own a four-game winning streak.

The Padres have a streak of their own to worry about. For the first time this season, they are 11 games behind first-place Cincinnati. They are two games under .500 (35-37) for the first time since May 26.

Their offense isn't producing, their starting pitching has been erratic, and their bullpen let them down Saturday for the second night in a row.

They had good chances to score in both the first and second innings but couldn't. By the end of the game, they would leave a season-high 13 men on base.

Because of that, they found themselves in a 3-3 game until Smith homered off starter Andy Benes to lead off the seventh. Then Calvin Schiraldi came in to face Salazar, and three pitches later, Cubs were rounding the bases at high rates of speed.

Steve Wilson (2-5) shut the Padres out on three hits in six innings of relief.

It was tough to tell who needed a victory more--the Padres, who have figured out several new ways to lose lately, or Benes, whose last victory was June 4.

The Padres have led and lost. They have trailed and lost. They have tied and lost. You name it.

As for Benes (6-6), it was his second consecutive loss after three consecutive no-decisions. He lasted 6 1/3 innings and gave up six runs on seven hits. He struck out four and walked five--one intentionally.

Three Cubs who were walked--two by Benes, one by reliever Rich Rodriguez--scored.

"Every time we walk a guy, he scores," Padre Manager Jack McKeon said. "Benes walks a guy, he scores. We get a walk, and we can't score."

Cub starter Shawn Boskie walked three Padres in the first, and the Padres failed to score. More on that in a minute.

The Padres have been in the habit of bringing to the surface one of their fatal flaws in most of their games recently, and one--pitching disarray--came up in the seventh Saturday. The game was tied, 3-3, when the clouds moved in on the Padre dugout.

Smith hit Benes' second pitch in the seventh over the 405-foot sign in dead center. It capped a night of mini-showdowns between Smith and Benes. In the first, Benes struck out Smith but needed 13 pitches to do so. In the third, Smith doubled.

But on with the seventh. Benes walked Ryne Sandberg, and Sandberg moved to second on Mark Grace's grounder to second. So Benes walked Andre Dawson intentionally.

Up stepped left-handed Marvell Wynne, and the Padres countered with left-hander Rich Rodriguez. Making his major league debut, Rodriguez walked Wynne on five pitches. Bases loaded.

With Salazar, a right-hander, up next, the Padres brought in right-handed Calvin Schiraldi. Salazar watched two balls sail past then turned a close game into a breeze.

He slammed the third pitch, a low fastball, just inside the third-base bag and down the left-field line for a triple. Suddenly, it was 7-3.

"I thought we were going to get a double-play out of that," Padre catcher Mark Parent said. "But that's what happens when the breaks are going the other club's way."

These days, it seems McKeon juggles his lineup more often than most people go grocery shopping. Problem is, the names on the list remain the same and so, too, does the production. This isn't exactly what McKeon envisioned in spring training.

"I thought we'd have much more production than this," he said.

So he tinkers here and putters there, hoping something clicks. Saturday's lineup had Tony Gwynn batting leadoff for the first time in, oh, 11 days, followed by Bip Roberts and Roberto Alomar. Jack Clark batted fourth, Fred Lynn fifth and Joe Carter was dropped down to sixth.

And in each of the first two innings, the Padres had runners in scoring position with none out but failed miserably. It wasn't until the third that they finally scored.

First: Gwynn walks and steals second. Roberts pops to short, but Alomar walks. Clark strikes out, but Lynn walks to load the bases. Carter fouls to Cub catcher Joe Girardi, who makes a sliding catch in front of the Padre dugout. The inning ends with Gwynn standing on third.

Second: Garry Templeton leads off with a double to right-center. Mark Parent flies to right, moving Templeton to third. Benes grounds to third, and Gwynn flies to left. The inning ends with Templeton standing on third.

It wasn't until the third that the Padres finally scored--they got three runs to tie the game. Roberts walked, Alomar followed with a triple into the Padre bullpen down the right-field line, and Clark followed that with a double that also went into the Padre bullpen. That pulled the Padres to within 3-2.

Up stepped Lynn, who promptly drove Clark home with a single to right. Boskie hit Carter, the next batter, bringing Cub Manager Don Zimmer out of the dugout and reliever Steve Wilson into the game.

Carter, meanwhile, walked to first base very slowly. It was the second time he had been hit by a pitch in two nights.

Wilson came on and retired three of the first four batters he faced to get the Cubs out of it with the score 3-3.

It wasn't exactly a night to remember for Boskie. He came into the game with a 2-4 record and a 3.78 earned-run average, and the Padres weren't quite sure what to expect. It was just his eighth major league start, and his first encounter with the Padres.

He left in the third after allowing three runs and four hits. He walked four--three in the first--and struck out one.

He didn't figure in the decision, though, because the Cubs had already scored three runs of their own.

The first came in the second, when Girardi singled home Wynne. Then, in the third, Smith doubled and scored on Sandberg's triple. Sandberg scored on Grace's sacrifice fly to right.

Padre Notes

CBS Sports, figuring Padre second baseman Roberto Alomar and Cleveland catcher Sandy Alomar Jr. both will play in the All-Star Game July 10, will be in town Monday to film footage for a special on the Alomar family to run during their coverage of the game. . . . Padre coach Amos Otis left before Saturday night's game because his 20-year-old daughter was taken to a hospital, but details were sketchy. Coaches Greg Riddoch and Sandy Alomar were unable to explain what happened, as was Mike Swanson, the Padre public relations director. . . . Third baseman Mike Pagliarulo, who had one hit in his past 20 at-bats, was given the night off. . . . Ways to impress your fiancee, chapter I: Ask her to marry you over the DiamondVision at a Padre game. This actually happened Saturday, as the normal fifth-inning feature was interrupted so vendor Aaron Barish could ask Sondra Bowers to marry him. This was done in full color on the scoreboard, and the proposal was broadcast over the public address system. "This is one of the most important moments of my life . . . " Barish began. About a minute later, judging from the applause in the area of the proposal, Bowers apparently said yes. . . . Entering Saturday's game, the Padre defense was tied for 10th with Pittsburgh in NL fielding with a .974 percentage. Only Atlanta, at .973, was worse. . . . The Padres had stolen 17 bases in the 10 games before Saturday. . . . Pitching matchups for the Padres' three-game series with Pittsburgh beginning Monday: The Padres' Bruce Hurst (4-7) vs. Walt Terrell (2-6) Monday; Ed Whitson (6-5) vs. Doug Drabek (8-4) Tuesday; Mike Dunne (0-3) vs. Neal Heaton (10-3) Wednesday. The Padres are 0-5 against Pittsburgh this season. . . . A reminder that Tuesday's game has been changed to 7:35 from 6:05 p.m. to accommodate ESPN. There will still be fireworks after the game. . . . Minor League Report: In Las Vegas, Eddie Williams hit his 14th home run as the Stars (triple-A) defeated Calgary, 7-2. In Wichita (double-A), outfielder Will Taylor's hitting streak ended at 20 games during the Wranglers' 7-3 victory over Midland Friday. . . . The Padres are keeping a close eye on 6-6 right-hander John Davis of Las Vegas. He has made three consecutive impressive starts, although the Padres likely would use him in middle relief. He is 1-3 with a 5.28 ERA, yielding 46 hits and 33 walks in 44 1/3 innings with 47 strikeouts. . . . Manager Jack McKeon said that he plans to discuss the possibility of tearing down the inner fence at San Diego Jack Murphy Stadium. The Padres have yielded a league-leading 80 home runs this season, including 49 at home. "People talk about Atlanta being 'The Launching Pad,' " said Pat Dobson, Padre pitching coach. "How about our place? It's a band box." . . . Contrary to popular belief, the velocity on Eric Show's fastball still is 88-89 m.p.h., according to scouts who clocked him recently.

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