SAN DIEGO — It seemed like old times for the Padres and Braves on Sunday afternoon during Atlanta's 7-5 victory at San Diego Jack Murphy Stadium.
Think back to the mid-1970s. In those days, the most San Diego and Atlanta had to look forward to in September was a possible series against the Dodgers or Reds that could help decide their opponent's fate in the National League West.
Now flash forward to Sunday. The parking lot, alive and full of zest a year ago, was nearly barren 30 minutes before game time. The ticket-takers had enough time to chat about the Charger game.
"That Lionel James sure is something," one said.
Inside, the orange-colored field seats were orange again because a crowd of 13,837 certainly wasn't big enough to fill them. Even most of the diehards in left field chose to sit in the shade rather than chance a day in the hot sun.
Still, Padre Manager Dick Williams thought the setting was perfect: "It was beautiful weather," he said.
Claudell Washington put the Braves in front with his 14th home run of the year, a solo blast off Andy Hawkins in the second inning.
The Padres, however, rallied for a run in their half of the second and one in the third on Jerry Royster's one-out squeeze that scored rookie Jerry Davis.
Davis had gotten to third thanks to a tag-team routine by Washington and Dale Murphy in right-center.
Davis lined a hard shot that fell in safely. When Washington and Murphy went for the ball, Washington bowled Murphy over as the ball rolled to the wall while Davis rolled into third.
But on this day, Hawkins--a 17-game winner--didn't have his best stuff.
"Galen Cisco (the Padres' pitching coach) told me he didn't have his good stuff in the pen," Williams said. "He just didn't quite have the good pop."
And so it was that the Braves--struggling so much to score runs lately that Manager Bobby Wine brought the infield in during the third inning to try and protect a 1-1 tie--rallied.
Bob Horner hit his 26th home run of the year off the top of the left-field fence to tie the game in the fourth and Milt Thompson singled in the go-ahead run in the seventh.
The Braves put the game away in the eighth, when Rafael Ramirez singled in one run and Glenn Hubbard singled in two with a bloop to right that just glanced off a hard-charging Davis' glove.
"There's still a heck of a lot on the line for us," Wine said. "We're trying to instill some confidence in this team for next year."
The Padres scored twice in the ninth to shave the Brave lead to 7-5 and had their hottest hitter, Garry Templeton, at the plate with two on.
Atlanta reliever Gene Garber, however, struck out Templeton and retired pinch-hitter Tony Gwynn on a ground ball to second base to end the game.
"It's certainly a bit frustrating right now," Gwynn said. "We feel we should have played better this season. But things haven't worked out. All we can do is try our best in the last 13 games of the year and get ready for next year."