SAN DIEGO — Long balls and long conversations were foremost on the Padres' minds Tuesday night.
Graig Nettles provided the long ball. His two-run homer in the eighth inning broke a 5-5 tie as the Padres beat San Francisco, 8-5, in front of 14,781.
Ballard Smith, team president, provided the long conversation. He held a 38-minute team meeting before the game, told players to refer all questions to him then refused to answer any questions.
Even the Pentagon isn't that secretive.
Nettles, 41, left no question that he can still hit home runs.
His homer off Jeff Robinson was No. 10 of the season and No. 378 of his career. He is 26th on the all-time home run list, one behind Orlando Cepeda.
Before the bottom of eighth, Steve Garvey and Manager Steve Boros had a brief conversation.
Said Garvey: "How about if I bunt?"
Said Boros: "Go ahead and do something to get us started."
So Garvey did. He bunted down the third-base line, easily beating the throw to first.
Nettles followed. Boros was faced with the question of whether to have Nettles bunt Garvey to second.
"Nettles has had good success against Robinson," Boros said. "I wanted to turn him loose at that point."
Before the game, the Padres turned the key to their locker room door and locked it. Nobody, except players, Boros, his coaches, Smith and General Manager Jack McKeon was informed of what went on behind closed doors.
Whether the team meeting was productive is questionable. Whether it was top secret was made painfully obvious by Smith.
When reporters approached Smith, he said: "Would you guys do me a favor and get away from me. You're like a bunch of (bleeping) flies."
As it turned out, Smith was supposed to be the spokesman about the meeting.
"I was told by Ballard to send everyone to him," said Tim Flannery, the team's player representative.
So it was time to seek Smith again.
However, it was too late by then. A spokesman at the door to Smith's private box said that Smith was going to join his wife, Linda, at a party for the evening.
Garvey, ever the diplomat, was left to be the reluctant spokesman.
"It was a good meeting between employer and employee," Garvey said. "We talked about questions between employer and employee."
There have been a couple of employer-employee questions this homestand.
--Players have been questioning Smith for banning beer in the clubhouse.
--Smith always questions why players criticize fans. And there has been plenty of recent criticism from players for the fans' booing of Carmelo Martinez.
One player said Smith's main emphasis was player complaints. From now on, Smith wants players to come to him with complaints, rather than going to the press.
Gossage complained loudly to the press when the beer ban went in effect two weeks ago. Among other things, he criticized Smith for sending memorandums on the beer ban instead of telling players face to face. So, Smith and Gossage aired their complaints face to face the next day.
The biggest question of all has been why the Padres are playing so poorly. Before Tuesday, they had not won two straight games since May 23.
After the team meeting, the Padres began by playing as poorly as Smith had fielded questions.
LaMarr Hoyt, their starting pitcher, kept his individual version of a June Swoon intact. Hoyt lasted four innings, allowing three runs (two earned) on five hits with five walks and one wild pitch.
Last year, Hoyt walked 0.86 batters per nine innings. This month, he has walked 0.94 batters per one-inning (16 in 17 innings).
But there's more to the June Swoon. Hoyt has allowed 18 runs (15 earned) on 25 hits this month.
Tim Stoddard, who has been swooning since he joined the Padres last year, pitched a scoreless fifth.
However, he didn't come and go unnoticed. Stoddard was the answer to a sports trivia question on the scoreboard concerning his participation on North Carolina State's basketball championship team in 1974.
He was booed for being the trivia answer and booed even more for coming into the game.
Gene Walter, who followed Stoddard to the mound, was around to hear more booing. But it wasn't all his fault.
Walter allowed a two-out single to Luis Quinones and a run-scoring double to pitcher Mike Krukow. Jose Uribe followed with an infield single, Krukow scoring on Graig Nettles' one-bounce throw to first that Steve Garvey couldn't handle.
The Giants led, 5-1, after 5 1/2 innings, but the Padres awoke from their slumber with four runs in the bottom of the sixth to tie the score, 5-5.
San Diego put together one of those 90-feet-at-a-time rallies that Boros emphasizes.
The Padres scored four times on five singles and a walk. Included were run-scoring singles by Garvey, Terry Kennedy, Garry Templeton and Flannery.
In the top of the seventh, San Francisco had two on and one out when Mike Aldrete hit a liner to the gap in left-center. Left fielder Kevin McReynolds made a nice running catch and doubled Jeffrey Leonard, who already had rounded third base, off second.