Gwynn’s Inside Slam Knocks Out Butler
Brett Butler and the Dodgers are hurting again.
The Dodger outfielder, who made a remarkable recovery after undergoing throat cancer surgery last May, strained his neck and right shoulder Thursday night when he tried to make a diving catch of Tony Gwynn’s seventh-inning, inside-the-park grand slam.
Gwynn’s second career grand slam was the big hit as the San Diego Padres extended their winning streak to eight games against the Dodgers with a 9-7 victory before 32,400 at Dodger Stadium.
Butler, making his first start in left field since Sept. 30, 1983, tried to make a diving catch on Gwynn’s opposite-field line drive off reliever Mark Guthrie. But the ball got past him and rolled into the left-field corner, giving Gwynn his second career grand slam.
Butler, who lay on the field as Gwynn circled the bases, said he made a mistake by trying to make a diving catch.
“I thought I could catch it, but I made the wrong choice,” Butler said. “I shouldn’t have dived. I was too aggressive. I should have played it on a hop and given up the run or two.
“I felt a pain in my neck and shoulder and didn’t get up. There’s probably a combination of my neck bothering me, my shoulder bothering me and a little bit of embarrassment.”
It was the first inside-the-park grand slam in the majors since Chico Walker of the Chicago Cubs did it in a 1991 game against the San Francisco Giants and the fifth inside-the-park grand slam in the majors in the 1990s.
Gwynn said he felt as though he was running a marathon as he circled the bases.
“When I hit it, I was just hoping it got down,” Gwynn said. “Rounding first I saw that it was rolling to the wall and I took off. That last 90 feet, that’s the longest 90 feet I’ve run. They were all standing there at home plate waving me on, and it’s like I never got there.”
Butler, who sat out 24 games because of an injured left shoulder, was helped off the field by Dodger trainer Charlie Strasser. He’s listed as day to day.
Manager Bill Russell might be second-guessed on his decision to hit for starter Tom Candiotti (4-2), who retired 10 of the last 13 batters he faced.
“He wasn’t the same as he was in San Francisco, but he was effective enough,” Russell said. “He went seven innings the last time and he got us six innings and that was OK.”
Todd Zeile pinch-hit for Candiotti, who had thrown 97 pitches, after pinch-hitter Karim Garcia drove in Roger Cedeno, who had tripled off the first-base bag, to tie the score, 4-4.
Guthrie (1-2) didn’t retire a batter, giving up singles to pinch-hitter Greg Vaughn and Rickey Henderson and a walk to Steve Finley, who hit a first-inning home run, to load the bases.
Then came the slam by Gwynn, who went two for four to raise his average to .399.
Candiotti was inserted into the rotation after starter Ramon Martinez went on the disabled list because of a shoulder injury.
He pitched a seven-inning shutout in his first start, last Saturday’s 11-0 win at San Francisco.
But he wasn’t as effective this time, giving up four runs in six innings on five hits as the Padres took a 4-2 lead.
Eric Karros, who drove in the Dodgers’ first three runs, drilled a two-run bases-loaded single off the glove of Ken Caminiti in the first inning.
Caminiti tied it, 2-2, in the third inning with a bases-loaded single to right, and the Padres took the lead on fielder’s choices by Wally Joyner and Quilvio Veras.
With the Dodgers trailing, 4-2, Karros belted a two-out fifth-inning RBI double into the left-field corner to drive in Mike Piazza, who had doubled to center.
Piazza added a two-run homer in the ninth inning to cut the final deficit to 9-7.
The Dodgers haven’t forgotten what the Padres did the last time they were here, sweeping a season-ending three-game series to deny the Dodgers the NL West championship.
“The last time they were here you know what happened,” Russell said of the Padres.
But simply because they remember the losses doesn’t mean the Dodgers have been able to do anything about them.
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