SAN DIEGO — It's contagious.
The Padre starting pitchers have a severe case of it. And it's making them as happy as it's making opposing hitters miserable.
LaMarr Hoyt transmitted it to Lance McCullers, who gave it to Dave Dravecky, who passed it on to Andy Hawkins Sunday afternoon.
It is a strong starting performance.
"With this staff," Hawkins said, "when you get three or four good outings in a row, everyone expects to do well."
Sunday afternoon, Hawkins allowed only one run in 7 innings to lead the Padres to a 2-1 victory against the Chicago Cubs in front of 17,192 fans at San Diego Jack Murphy Stadium.
Goose Gossage relieved Hawkins and retired all four batters he faced. Relying on a wicked slider, Gossage struck out the side in the ninth to pick up his 15th save of the season.
Hawkins' strong outing was the fourth straight impressive game for a Padre starting staff that entered this home stand with serious problems.
"Even taking into consideration (Dave) Dravecky's and (Eric) Show's tender elbows," Padre Manager Steve Boros said, "we're in better shape now than we've been. It took a long time for this staff to come together."
In winning three of four from the Cubs this weekend, the Padre starters allowed just four runs in 29 innings. Overall, the staff gave up only six runs (five solo home runs).
"Keeping these guys (the Cubs are hitting .249, which is seventh in the National League) to six runs is pretty good," Padre catcher Terry Kennedy said. "When guys start pitching well, sometimes it takes the pressure off the next guy. Now we have four guys throwing good."
Padre pitching coach Galen Cisco said the starters probably haven't put together four such impressive games since the first 10 games of the season.
Hoyt pitched his first complete game of the season in a 4-1 victory Thursday night.
McCullers, making his first major league start, shut out the Cubs on two hits over 6 innings Friday night.
Despite pitching with a tender left elbow, Dravecky gave up only two earned runs in six innings Saturday.
Sunday, Hawkins volunteered to pitch with three days' rest so that Show's tender right elbow could get a fifth day of rest. Show is scheduled to face the Pirates tonight.
"I know Eric needs an extra day and somebody has to pick the slack," Hawkins said. "When guys like Eric and Dave are out there pitching, it makes us healthy guys want to give a little extra."
After throwing between 90 and 100 pitches Wednesday and getting racked for five runs in 5 innings in an 8-1 loss in Houston last Wednesday, Hawkins gutted his way to a victory Sunday.
"Today's game was more like last year in that I got out of tough situations," Hawkins said.
In the second inning, Hawkins got pitcher Scott Sanderson to fly to right with two out and the bases loaded. Ryne Sandberg flied to center and Keith Moreland struck out with a man on second in the third.
In the fifth, Moreland flied to center with two out and runners on first and second. Hawkins allowed one run on three singles in the sixth, retired the side in the seventh and allowed a two-out double to left-center by Ron Cey in the eighth.
"We were hoping to get to the eighth or ninth with Hawk and then go straight to Goose," Boros said.
With Cey on second, Goose got Shawon Dunston on a long fly to center fielder Marvell Wynne.
That was the last time a Cub batter touched the ball.
Gossage struck out Jerry Mumphrey on a fastball and Thad Bosley and Gary Matthews on sliders.
Matthews--the same batter who blasted a Gossage fastball for a game-tying home run Friday night--was called out on strikes to end Sunday's game.
"Goose had a good slider today," Kennedy said. "The ball was going down good."
Said Gossage: "If they have to look for two pitches, it's a big benefit to me. I don't care how hard you throw in this league. You need another pitch. I had a good slider today. My location was about as good as it can get."
With his pitching staff on the upswing, Boros focused his postgame complaints on his team's lack of run production.
The Padres scored two runs in each of their last three games and just 10 in four games against the Cubs.
Sunday, Wynne led off the first with a towering home run to right-center on a 3-1 fastball from Sanderson. That was home run No. 4 for Wynne and the first time this season that a Padre had homered to lead off a game.
"Marvell will hit some home runs for us," Boros said. "That's one of the pluses that maybe we weren't aware of when we got him."
San Diego pieced together its second run in the fourth on singles by Kevin McReynolds and Steve Garvey and a sacrifice fly to center by Garry Templeton.
That was it for the offense.
Has the team's lack of offensive punch surprised Boros?
"As far as batting average and home runs, no," Boros said. "As far as scoring runs, yes. We have the fewest walks in the league. And since we have the most intentional walks, that makes it worse. There is a lack of run production because of our lack of patience at the plate. . . .
"But we talked to Marvell about that (lack of patience) Saturday after he swung at a 3-1 pitch that was almost on the ground. Today he swung at a 3-1 pitch in his wheelhouse and hit it up in the seats."
Can patience become contagious?