Pendleton Yet Again Spells Loss : Baseball: Bruce Hurst is the victim as Atlanta beats Padres, 2-1.
It seemed perfect. The Padres were locked in a scoreless tie, but their man was on the mound. The man.
He had won five decisions in a row and seven of his past eight decisions.
But then came the eighth inning of a scoreless game, runners were on second and third and here came the Padre-killer himself, the third baseman of the Atlanta Braves. Their man.
It didn’t take long. One pitch, one swing and the ball was slicing down the left-field line. For the second night in a row, Pendleton clubbed Padre hopes with his bat.
This time, Pendleton’s two-run double was the deciding blow as the Braves defeated the Padres, 2-1, in front of an All-Star Game Cap Night crowd of 39,551.
On Friday, Pendleton’s two-run homer decided things. And remember, this is a man whom the Padres brushed away last winter when he was a free agent.
“He’s an MVP-type candidate,” Padre Manager Greg Riddoch said. “He’s having one of those years.”
As for Hurst (14-6), he seems to get better with each start.
“The disappointing thing is, that’s the best stuff Hurst has had all year,” Riddoch said. "(Home plate umpire) Harry Wendelstedt told me that’s the best game he’s called with Bruce pitching all year.”
Hurst left after eight innings, allowing two runs on six hits. He struck out six and walked none. His biggest problem was the inside curve to Pendleton.
The result was enough to snap the longest winning streak for Hurst--five consecutive decisions--since 1988. He won a career-high 18 games that year.
It was also Hurst’s first loss since July 3.
And it was the second time in two days the Padres blew a chance to move into third place for the time since June 24. Their chance came when the Giants lost . . . again.
It was a frustrating ending to a day that began a couple of hours before the 7:05 p.m. start. When you’re within reach of a pennant race, your days seem to start earlier.
It was shortly after 5 p.m., with batting practice in full swing, when someone clicked on the scoreboard at San Diego Jack Murphy Stadium.
Riddoch, standing behind the batting cage, looked up at the out of town scores. Then he looked to his left, toward Bruce Kimm, the Padre third-base coach.
“The Giants got shut out again,” Riddoch said.
“Scudder,” Kimm said back, referring to Cincinnati starter Scott Scudder.
“Twice in a row in the ‘Stick,” Riddoch said.
Said Kimm: “We gotta win.”
It may still be early, but the Padres fully believe they are in a pennant race. And when that happens, suddenly, the score from your own ballpark is no longer the only score that matters.
Yes, Cincinnati shut out San Francisco Saturday, 7-0. On Friday, Cincinnati whitewashed the Giants, 5-0. It was the first time San Francisco endured back-to-back shutouts since April, 1988.
The Padres, meanwhile, left the tying run on third base with two out in the ninth. Atlanta right-hander Mark Wohlers, making his major-league debut after being recalled from triple-A Richmond Friday, came on to strike out Tim Teufel.
Talk about showing confidence in a kid.
“If I had a young guy like that, I’d show confidence in him, too,” Riddoch said. “He has an outstanding arm.”
So, too, does Charlie Leibrandt. The Atlanta starter left after seven innings, shutting the Padres down on two hits. Leibrandt struck out four and, like Hurst, didn’t walk a batter.
Leibrandt, in fact, has been pitching as well as anyone in baseball in his last three starts. In those three games, he has gone 21 innings and allowed just two runs for a 0.86 ERA.
Saturday, he was nothing like the Padres remembered him. On Aug. 2 in Atlanta, the Padres stung him for seven runs and 10 hits in just four innings en route to a 13-3 victory.
But on this night, Leibrandt’s assortment of off-speed pitches kept the Padres guessing. They scratched a single in the third and another in the fourth but couldn’t get a runner past second. Leibrandt retired 11 of the final 12 Padres he faced.
“Leibrandt’s a dandy,” Hurst said. “He’s a great pitcher, no doubt. He’s done it for a lot of years to a lot of pitchers and to a lot of teams.”
So it came down to the eighth. Mark Lemke popped a ball up into shallow right field, and Padre second baseman Craig Shipley ran back and the ball landed in his glove and then bounced out. It was ruled a single.
Up stepped Leibrandt, who bunted. Teufel fielded it, turned and threw to second in time to get pinch-runner Otis Nixon.
But the next batter, Keith Mitchell, bounced a ball into the hole between third and short. Tony Fernandez got to it in time to knock it down, but he had no play.
Two batters later, Gregg and Mitchell scored when Pendleton lined a Hurst pitch down the left-field line.
Pendleton came to the plate with first base open, but Riddoch wasn’t inclined to walk him because Ron Gant, who leads the NL in home runs with 27, was standing in the on-deck circle.
“If you walk (Pendleton) and load the bases and then get behind on Gant, (Hurst) is dead,” Riddoch said.
Of course, things didn’t turn out so well the other way, either.