Padre starter Bruce Hurst was driving to the ballpark Tuesday afternoon, recklessly pushing the buttons on his car radio, trying to get the latest update on the brush fire rampaging through North County.
He waited as long as possible before leaving his house Tuesday, and when he did, he saw the fire raging about a mile from his house. He smelled the smoke in the air. And his next-door neighbor was packing up his belongings.
"It was real freaky," Hurst said, "to see the fire so close to our home. When I got home last night, Holly (Hurst's wife) was waiting outside on the driveway, knowing I'd be worried. I got to sleep all right, but I woke up about 7 in the morning."
So pardon Hurst for not having his mind completely on the Dodgers when he faced them Tuesday, thinking about things a little closer to home.
The Dodgers cringe wondering what would have happened if they had his undivided attention, because Hurst made them look awfully silly as it was in the Padres' 4-0 victory, pitching a five-hit complete game in front of the crowd of 13,758 at San Diego Jack Murphy Stadium.
Ironically, it was the second ex-Boston Red Sox pitcher to shut out the Dodgers in the past two weeks, with Oil Can Boyd pulling off the feat for Montreal.
But this shutout, the 18th of Hurst's career, was much more devastating to the Dodgers, who fell to seven games behind the division-leading Cincinnati Reds, and likely out of the National League West race.
The Dodgers dropped into a tie for second with the San Francisco Giants, leaving both teams the task of having to go 17-3 if the Reds (80-60) win only half of their remaining games.
Really, the only number significant number is 15: the Reds' magic number.
Hurst didn't even give the Dodgers a chance on this night, completely dominating their lineup, with the top six batters going 2 for 21, striking out seven times and grounding out on nine others.
The Dodgers managed to hit only two balls out of the infield through the first six innings--Stan Javier's single that opened the game, and Juan Samuel's leadoff double in the sixth. In fact, after Javier's single to center in the first, 14 consecutive Dodgers went down without hitting the ball out of the infield, with six of them striking out.
It wasn't until Hubie Brooks, the 22nd batter Hurst faced in the game, that the Dodgers finally managed a fly-ball out. Mickey Hatcher followed with another to right. Otherwise, that was the extent of the Dodger power show.
Fred Lynn could have pulled up a lounge chair, poured himself a cold one, and watched TV for all of action he got in left field. He never got a ball hit to him until Jose Vizcaino led off the ninth with a single.
It was the only time Hurst ran into any difficulty. Hurst had runners on first and second with one out after he walked Mike Sharperson, and when Manager Greg Riddoch made his trek to the mound, Hurst thought he was finished.
But Riddoch, knowing that Hurst has had all kinds of trouble in the late innings this season--allowing 11 runs in 12 1/3 innings after the seventh inning, compared to one run in 30 innings a year ago--played a hunch, and left him in.
"I got about two steps out of the dugout, and decided to let him have one more hitter," Riddoch said.
The last time Riddoch did this, Hurst gave up a three-run homer by Larry Walker of the Montreal Expos in the eighth inning, resulting in a 4-2 defeat.
"I wanted my say," Hurst said. "In that situation, I don't want to come out. . . . I know what he was thinking of: Larry Walker."
This time, Hurst struck Dodger outfielder Kirk Gibson out looking, and induced a soft grounder by Brooks, ending the game, and perhaps, the Dodger season.
And who do you think provided the damaging blow to the Dodgers' pennant hopes again? Who else, but Jack Clark.
You remember him, don't you? Big guy . . . plays first base . . . eliminated the Dodgers with his homer in the 1985 playoffs . . .
When you're mired in a 3-for-25 slump (.120), failing to drive in a single run since Sept. 2, it's easy for fans to forget that you're still playing, much less the opposition.
But funny things tend to happen when you're angry, and when Clark was sent to the dirt on Mike Hartley's inside pitch in the fourth inning, he slowly dusted himself off, never taking his eye off Hartley.
Hartley, hoping to catch Clark off-guard, tried to sneak a fastball by him on his next pitch.
Clark slammed the pitch over the left-field fence for a two-run homer, breaking open a scoreless game, and sending the Padres on their way to their second consecutive victory over the Dodgers.
"Those are the kind of moments," Clark said, "when you had your fun, I have mine."
The Padres went on to make a rout of the game, scoring two more runs in the fifth on Tony Gwynn's two-run triple, and the Padres just sat back and watched Hurst take care of the rest.
"They just looked flat to me the last two nights," Gwynn said of the Dodgers. "I don't understand it."
Of course, the way Hurst (9-9) was pitching, who could get excited?
Just to make sure he preserves the bitter memory of Saturday night's cruel act, in which someone hung a dismembered figurine of himself in the dugout, Padre right fielder Tony Gwynn has posted a picture of it in his locker. "It reminds me of what kind of season this was," Gwynn said. "I don't think I'll ever forget it." . . . The primary reason for Monday's late-night meeting between shortstop Garry Templeton and Padre Manager Greg Riddoch, it turns out, was a comment made by Templeton during the game. In the sixth inning, with Templeton on second base and Dennis Rasmussen on first, Riddoch elected to let Bip Roberts hit away instead of bunt. Roberts ended up flying out, Paul Faries grounded out, and Gwynn flied out, ending the inning. When Templeton came into the dugout, he apparently made an off-hand comment about Riddoch's decision, which was heard loud and clear on the Padre bench. Riddoch summoned Templeton into the office after the game, and the two discussed the incident, among other things, for 50 minutes. "That's the thing about managing," Riddoch said, "everyone has their opinions on decisions that are made during the game. We worked everything out. We left the meeting feeling good."
Roberts underwent surgery Tuesday to remove a polyp from his tonsils, and was scratched from the lineup. He was replaced by Mike Pagliarulo at third base. The move necessitated a revamping of the lineup, in which Riddoch moved second baseman Joey Cora from eighth to the leadoff spot; shortstop Templeton from seventh to the No. 2 spot; left fielder Fred Lynn from seventh to sixth; and catcher Benito Santiago dropping from sixth to seventh. "The medication made his nauseous," Riddoch said. "I've been nauseous too lately, but it's not because I had surgery . . . if you catch my drift." . . . Padre pitcher Eric Show was suffering from a case of food poisoning Tuesday after a late-night dinner of lamb, which left him sick the entire night. "I don't think I ever felt that sick in my life," Show said, "it was awful."
The Padres were being fitted for their new uniforms before the game, although many likely will be gone before next season. . . . Randy Jones, the former Padre Cy Young winner, was in the clubhouse before the game selling leather jackets and sunglasses. . . . The Padres' Class A club in Riverside is exploring the possibility of moving to Victorville, northeast of Sn Bernardino. The chief complaint about Riverside? Beer is prohibited in the stadium. . . . The Padres have two players ranked among the top 10 Pacific Coast League prospects, according to the latest survey in Baseball America. Reliever Rafael Valdez is ranked as the fifth-best prospect, and outfielder Thomas Howard is ranked eighth.
The Padres will conclude their last extended home stand of the season at 7:05 p.m. today with a game against the Dodgers. Ed Whitson (12-8) and Jim Neidlinger (4-1) are the scheduled starters. The Padres are off Thursday, and then will begin a seven-game trip Friday in Atlanta.