Bullpen Troubles Take Their Toll on Padres : Baseball: Big inning allows the Chicago Cubs to claim a 10-8 victory over the Padres.


The Padres constantly talk about their need for a third baseman. They’re scanning the free-agent market for a power-hitting outfielder. They’ve got their eye out for another starting pitcher.

No matter, the Padres better come up with some bullpen help, or else next season could look like this dismal one.

The Padres, in yet another miserable performance by the bullpen, lost 10-8 to the Chicago Cubs on Monday night in front of a Labor Day crowd of 12,706 at San Diego Jack Murphy Stadium.


Considering the Padres’ offensive plight this season, they found it rather hard to stomach losing a game in which they had nine hits, two homers and eight runs.

“We stunk it up as good as you can stink it up,” Padre Manager Greg Riddoch said.

The Padres’ troubles began in the fourth inning when back spasms hit starter Bruce Hurst during a pickoff attempt. The back soon began to tighten, then throb.

Hurst didn’t want to leave the game. He was pitching brilliantly, allowing only two hits through the first four innings, and three through five innings.

Although Hurst finally succumbed to the back pain--yielding four runs in the sixth inning, highlighted by Luis Salazar’s three-run homer--it became easy to see why Hurst didn’t want to leave.

The Padre bullpen gave up six hits, six runs, four walks and a grand slam to account for their evening.

And with reliever Jose Melendez, 6-5, taking the loss, the Padre bullpen now is a cumulative 14-19 record this season with 16 blown saves.


“We just self-destructed out there,” Riddoch said. “That was as ugly an inning as you’re going to see.”

The Padres were clinging to a 5-4 lead entering the eighth inning when everything disintegrated. Reliever Jose Melendez started it by walking leadoff hitter Shawon Dunston. Rick Wilkins followed with a single to center off the tip of shortstop Tony Fernandez’s glove, moving Dunston to third.

Melendez then got Chico Walker to hit a bouncer in front of the plate. Melendez moved quickly to field the ball, double-clutched, looked to first, and had no play. He hung onto the ball, and with his back toward the third base line, stared toward the ground.

Dunston, thinking that Melendez was going to throw to first, took off for home. The crowd and catcher Benito Santiago started to scream. By the time Melendez turned around and realized what was happening, Dunston was sliding across the plate.

“I didn’t know he was coming,” Melendez said. “I turned around the wrong way. When I turned around again, I had no chance.”

And the inning would get uglier.


Rich Rodriguez came onto the scene and gave up a run-scoring single to Doug Dascenzo. He followed that up with a wild pitch. He had no choice but to intentionally walk Mark Grace before handing the ball over to reliever Jim Lewis.

It would get even uglier.

Lewis came in with the bases loaded and Ryne Sandberg at the plate. He wound up facing Sandberg with a full-count.

Sandberg knew he had to throw a fastball. Lewis knew he had to throw a fastball. Sandberg swung away at a high fastball, and the only remaining suspense was whether his blast would be fair or foul. The ball hit the netting on the foul pole. Grand slam. It was the second grand slam of Sandberg’s career, his first since May 31, 1983, and the sixth surrendered by the Padres this season.

The Cubs suddenly had a 10-5 lead, and four batters later, the innings mercifully ended.

The Padres would make it 10-7 on Darrin Jackson’s two-run homer in the bottom of the eighth. They scored again on Santiago’s third RBI of the game when Dascenzo fell down in left field in the ninth, but the damage caused by the bullpen was too much to overcome.

“We’ve got to improve in a lot of areas,” Riddoch said, skirting the bullpen woes.

Perhaps no one would have been talking about all this had Hurst’s remained healthy. He said it didn’t affect him in the Cubs’ four-run sixth inning, but his actions spoke otherwise.


“It did hurt to breathe,” Hurst finally confessed.

The Cubs, trailing 2-0 after Jack Howell’s two-run homer in the fourth, opened the sixth with Sandberg’s double to right-center-field. Andre Dawson followed with another double to right, scoring Sandberg. George Bell then hit a sharp ground ball to third base that Howell knocked down. However he was unable to make a play, allowing Bell to reach first.

That brought up Salazar, who was traded away by the Padres in 1989. And just like so many former Padres, this one came back to haunt them, too.

Salazar belted a 1-and-0 forkball over the left-center-field fence for his 12th home run of the season. Just like that, the Cubs had a 4-2 lead.

Hurst didn’t get out of the inning until he surrendered two more hits in the inning, and was able to escape only by striking out Grace. Still, the Cubs had six hits in the inning, the most Hurst has yielded this season.

“I don’t think there’s another team in the league that runs out ground balls as hard as they do,” said Hurst, “and is as aggressive with the bats as they are. You respect that as a pitcher.”

Perhaps Hurst was sending a message to his own teammates that they should also follow suit.


The defeat foiled the Padres’ chance to move into third place, but amazingly, even with a 64-68 record, they somehow remained only 8 1/2 games behind the Dodgers and Atlanta Braves.

Go figure.