Morris' Chance at Batting Title Cut Down by Padre Outfielder

The phone starting ringing Sunday in the press box at San Diego Jack Murphy Stadium. The folks in Atlanta were getting nervous. Hal Morris of the Cincinnati Reds had gotten three hits in his first three at-bats and needed one more to take the batting title away from the Braves' Terry Pendleton.

Then Morris, batting in the seventh inning, hit a line drive that started slicing toward the left-center gap. He started running toward first but kept his eye on the ball the whole way, hoping, praying it would drop.

Instead, Padre center fielder Darrin Jackson sprinted toward the ball, stuck his glove into the air and caught it.

Morris, who ended the 3-1 Padres victory standing in the on-deck circle, fell one hit short of winning his first batting title. He went three for four, finishing with a .318 average, second to Pendleton's .319.

"I really thought that ball was in the gap," Morris said, slowly shaking his head. "But I gave it a run, didn't I? I gave it a run."

Morris entered the game with a dismal chance of winning the title. He needed to go four for four or four for five. Worse, he was facing Padre starter Andy Benes, who had kept him to a career .100 batting average.

Morris calmly stroked three consecutive singles against Benes in his first three at-bats, all on fastballs.

"I'm not too disappointed," Morris said, playing in his first full season. "Really, it was a lot of fun."

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