PITTSBURGH — Not again. Goose Gossage came in with a three-run lead in the eighth inning Wednesday night, and before you could say "heads up," Sid Bream hit one up over the right-field fence to make it a one-run lead.
"I scared the guys into getting some more runs," Gossage said.
His guys--the San Diego Padres--did manage to score five times in the ninth, and, never fear, Gossage came back to the mound to finish. Throwing mostly sliders, he earned his sixth save, though it was the ninth-inning rally that saved this one.
The Padres left for home with a 10-4 victory over Pittsburgh, and Gossage left pondering his existence.
This has been hard on him. Before Wednesday, he'd given up eight runs in five games and lost three times. Goose hates to lose. Goose kicks cans when he loses. Trash cans. And when reporters want to know why he loses, he kicks them out of the room.
But Goose gathered himself after Wednesday's game and explained calmly what losing means to him.
"Ah, I'm struggling a little, but it's nothing I've never been through before. It's a matter of going out there again and again. Everyone takes their licks, but you work it out. It's a matter of time. . . .
"Obviously, you don't want to give up a home run, but I know I still have the lead and I can't lose that aggressiveness. Does this come from experience? Yes. There were times when I was young, if I'd done that (given up a homer), I'm done. I'm finished. They might as well take me out. But it's a matter of getting your brains beat out and your butt kicked over the years. I can handle it. As long as they (his bosses) keep their confidence in you.
"When I signed with the Yankees in '78, I probably had the worst month of my life. The harder I tried, the harder they hit it. See, the harder you try, the worse you get. . . . That's why I try to keep an even keel. . . . But I was looking forward to the ninth tonight. . . . I wasn't scared or worried."
The ninth-inning rally really helped, though. The five runs equalled the Padres' biggest inning of the season, and the six-run victory was their largest of the season. Garry Templeton started the ninth with a double to right and moved to second when Tony Gwynn got his fourth hit of the night--an infield single.
Reliever Jim Winn came in, but he walked Steve Garvey--who had hit his sixth homer of the year in the first inning, a two run blast--and the bases were loaded for Kevin McReynolds. Templeton scored on a wild pitch, and then McReynolds doubled in two runs.
Later, former Pirate Marvell Wynne singled in two more runs.
"Championship teams do that," Garvey said. "That's what we did in '84. Putting teams away."
Gwynn and McReynolds were especially commended by Manager Steve Boros. First of all, Gwynn scored three runs and stole two bases.
"He gave a clinic on running the bases," Boros said.
And it was McReynolds--two doubles, three hits and three RBIs--who kept Gwynn running.
"He made me run my butt off," Gwynn said.
True. In the fifth, Gwynn scored from first base on a McReynolds' double.
"Sheeooooot, man," McReynolds said. "Me and Tony were talking before the game. I said, 'You haven't scored from first all year.' He said: 'You're right,' and I said: 'Uh huh.' I was thinking about that when I hit that ball (in the fifth)."
Gwynn: "I'm beat. It's been a long time since I've run like that."
And a long time since McReynolds has hit like that. The stance he's using now is the one he used in high school--feet closer together, standing straight up instead of crouching.
A high school buddy was telling him the other day to go back to the old stance.
McReynolds: "I kind of had the feeling I was doing that (crouching and leaning back at the plate), but when guys who you used to play with tell you that . . . "
McReynolds wouldn't say what the guy's name is.
"He don't want no publicity," he said.
Padre starter Dave Dravecky didn't want no control problems, either. But he had some in the sixth and seventh innings. In the sixth, he walked a man, and Mike Brown ended up hitting a two-run double. Just before that, Bruce Bochy had hit a homer to left to make it 5-0, Padres.
Suddenly, it was 5-2.
Then, with two outs in the seventh, Dravecky walked Sam Khalifa and pinch-hitter Mike Diaz. Boros walked out to yank him, and Dravecky would not look Boros in the eye.
"I wanted to tell him he did his job," Boros said. "But he didn't want to hear it."
Reliever Lance McCullers did his job. He retired Joe Orsulak to end the inning, though Orsulak came within five feet of a home run. Gwynn caught the fly ball on the warning track.
So in came Goose for the eighth with a 5-2 lead. He struck out Lee Mazzilli on a slider, but Johnny Ray singled off a fastball. Brown flied out on a fastball, and then Bream homered on a 1-and-1 fastball that was right down the middle. It was a one-run game. Tony Pena grounded out on a breaking ball to end the inning.
By the ninth, the Padres led by six runs.