SAN DIEGO — It was nearly as quick as Cardinal leadoff speedster Vince Coleman goes from one base to another.
Too quick for notoriously slow-starting Padre pitcher LaMarr Hoyt.
The Cardinals, who have spent most of the season pecking away at opponents, scored six runs and batted around in the first inning to beat the Padres, 14-4, Wednesday at San Diego Jack Murphy Stadium.
The Cardinals finished with 15 hits and four stolen bases.
It didn't take long for the first steal, either. Coleman, the National League leader in stolen bases with 25, singled to lead off the game and virtually stole second before Hoyt's next pitch reached the plate. He scored on Willie McGee's single seconds later.
The track meet was on.
The Padre homestand was over, closing with a 5-2 record.
"LaMarr kept throwing," said Cardinal manager Whitey Herzog, "and we kept hitting."
And hitting and running.
When the blur of redbirds circling the bases came to a halt, the Cardinals had scored six runs on six hits, two stolen bases, two balks by Hoyt, and a Padre error in the first inning.
There were run-scoring singles by McGee, Tommy Herr, Ozzie Smith and Joaquin Andujar, and a RBI double by Jack Clark.
Throw in two more Cardinal runs in the second inning off Hoyt, who actually started the inning after what he went through in the first.
Hoyt allowed eight runs--seven earned--and eight hits in one inning of work before being relieved by Luis DeLeon with two on and nobody out in the second.
Both those runners scored, and suddenly the Padres were down by a touchdown and two-point conversion.
"I'm sure he might be pressing," Padre Manager Dick Williams said about Hoyt, who has not won a game in four starts since he beat the Braves, 3-1, April 24.
"He's pressing, and we're concerned because he's 2-4. But we're not panicking."
Not yet, at least.
While the man who many people thought would be the Padre ace this season was bombed, the Cardinal ace just struggled. And it was a relaxing struggle.
With anyone on the mound, an eight-run lead is fairly safe. With Andujar pitching, it's just about insurmountable.
Entering Wednesday night's game, Andujar was 5-1 with a 3.17 earned-run average. Make that 6-1 for the right-hander who allowed 10 hits and four runs in 6 innings, but was never really in danger of losing his second game.
The Padres, who were trying to put together their first four-game winning streak, added single runs in the third, fourth, fifth and sixth innings, but never got closer than a four-run deficit.
They had some chances to keep the fans interested, but could not come up with the clutch hit when needed.
In the fifth, Nettles grounded to first to strand two runners. In the sixth, Flannery stranded two more runners when he bounced out on a nice play between Clark and Andujar, who was covering first.
It was still enough of a game at that point to keep most of the crowd of 27,368 fans in the stadium.
After the Cardinals scored three in the seventh off Craig Lefferts, the box seats began to empty. When Clark belted a three-run home run to left off Lefferts in the eighth, the ushers began to stand out in an empty stadium.
The exodus of fans was almost as fast as the Cardinals scored runs in the first inning. Almost.
The Padres had played seven straight errorless games before Tim Flannery committed a throwing error in the first inning. The team record of nine consecutive errorless games was set in 1979. The Padres have 18 errors in 32 games, as compared to 33 at this point last season. . . . Kevin McReynolds had two singles to extend his hitting streak to a career-high 10 games. . . . In his longest stint on the mound since he went 4 1/3 innings against the Giants on June 26, 1982, Luis DeLeon allowed just one hit in four scoreless innings. DeLeon struck out four and hit a batter.