Ron Darling gave up only three hits in seven innings Wednesday at San Francisco and improved his record to 5-0 as the New York Mets defeated the Giants, 7-4.
Although the Mets are 8-0 in games started by the 6-3 right-hander and he has won his last four starts, the Mets have been mostly unhappy with Darling's work this season.
His fifth victory was no exception. He needed 120 pitches to make it through seven innings. After the game, Manager Davey Johnson was less than elated.
"It's really tough on a manager watching your pitcher go to a 3-and-2 count on almost every batter when he has a big lead," Johnson said. "I didn't think he had his real good stuff, and I think he could have thrown more strikes with the bad stuff."
A bases-loaded double by Darryl Strawberry sparked a four-run first inning that gave Darling a working margin.
He gave up a run-scoring triple to Chris Brown in the first and a home run to Dan Gladden in the third. After walking four and striking out four, he was replaced by Roger McDowell in the eighth.
By that time, Wally Backman, with three hits (two of them doubles), and Howie Johnson, with two hits and two runs batted in, had helped build a 7-2 lead.
Darling said the notorious Candlestick Park wind was at least partially to blame for his problems.
"I didn't feel very much in command out there," Darling told the Associated Press. "I wasn't in synch. I've had that trouble here before. For one thing, because of the wind, it's hard to get moisture on the fingers to grip the ball. That hurt my forkball and curve."
Darling had not pitched a complete game in eight starts. In his first four starts, he was hit hard and had control troubles. He won only once. Johnson complained about Darling's lack of control on several occasions.
He seemed to have straightened out when he gave up only two earned runs in 16 innings of his two previous starts, but now his earned-run average is 3.78, and he has yielded 24 walks in 49 innings.
San Diego 7, Philadelphia 2--Dave Dravecky struck out a career-high 11 at San Diego, and Tony Gwynn went 4 for 4 to pace the Padres.
Gwynn, the league batting champion in 1984, took over the lead from Pittsburgh's Johnny Ray as he lifted his average to .362.
The Padres jumped on Charles Hudson for five runs on seven hits in two-plus innings.
Atlanta 9, Chicago 8--George Frazier walked Andres Thomas on four pitches to force in the winning run with one out in the 13th inning at Atlanta and give the Braves their sixth victory in a row.
The Barves had 21 hits, five of them by Ken Oberkfell.
The Cubs appeared to be beaten, trailing, 8-5, in the ninth. But with two out, Jody Davis hit a three-run home run off Bruce Sutter to send the game into extra innings.
Pittsburgh 2, Houston 1--It was ex-Dodger night for the Pirates at Houston. Rick Rhoden pitched a five-hitter, and Sid Bream accounted for the Pirate runs with a home run and a double.
Rhoden pitched a five-hitter to improve his record to 3-3, recording his first complete game of the season.
Bream opened the second inning with a double and completed the circuit on singles by Mike Brown and Jim Morrison. Bream hit his seventh home run in the fourth inning.
Mike Scott (4-3) struck out nine to increase his league lead to 77, but his record against the Pirates fell to 0-8.
St. Louis 8, Cincinnati 3--In the battle between the two last-place teams in the National League at St. Louis, the Cardinals fought back after the Reds opened with a 3-0 lead.
Andy Van Slyke hit his first home run of the season, a two-run smash, to key a four-run sixth inning that put the Cardinals in command.