SAN DIEGO — Tony Gwynn, who supposedly is in a slump every time he has a hitless game, ended an 0-for-12 streak with a game-winning three-run homer Tuesday night that gave the Padres a 4-2 victory over the Pittsburgh Pirates.
Afterward, Padre Manager Steve Boros peered at his scorecard, threw down his glasses, sighed and said:
"Tony really busted out of his slump in style."
Gwynn, who was hitting .338 before the game, said later: "Well, once you win a batting title and prove you can hit, people try to make it news if you go 0 for 10, 0 for 12, whatever. Guys go through 0-for streaks constantly. I'm no different than anybody else."
Then again, maybe he is.
This was his third game-winning RBI of the season.
All three have been home runs.
All three have come against left-handers--Bob Knepper, Jesse Orosco and now Larry McWilliams.
Tony Gwynn, a left-handed hitter, is batting .370 against left-handers. And only .318 against right-handers.
"Can't explain it," he said.
Anyway, LaMarr Hoyt (4-4), who gave up eight measly hits in eight innings, ran up to Gwynn afterward and said: "Thanks, big guy."
The Padres had trailed, 2-0, after 7 1/2 innings.
Bip Roberts would have led off the bottom of the eighth, but Boros lifted him for pinch-hitter Tim Flannery.
"I just had a feeling he'd get on base," Boros said of Flannery. "I just had a feeling they'd throw Bip high fastballs and let him hit fly balls to left field like he did his first two times up. And I just had a feeling Timmy would be more of a challenge--if not getting a hit, he'd stick his butt out and get hit by a fastball or take a walk."
He took a walk.
"Dumb fool luck," Boros said. "Just a hunch."
Next, John Kruk batted for Hoyt and hammered a double off the wall in left-center.
"I don't know of anyone who gets comfortable pinch-hitting," said Kruk. "I just go up and swing."
His double moved Flannery to third. Marvell Wynne was next. He dribbled a ball down the right side of the infield that eluded pitcher Rick Reuschel. Sid Bream, covering first base, didn't charge the ball. Second baseman Johnny Ray let it roll to him instead, and by the time he flipped it, underhanded, to Bream, Wynne was safe.
Flannery scored, and McWilliams replaced Reuschel.
"Marvell set up the whole inning," Gwynn said. "If he doesn't beat it out, I probably don't hit in that situation."
He hit. A homer to deep right.
"As the game was going on, I was beginning to wonder if we were gonna beat these guys," Gwynn said.
The Pirates had won all four games here this season.
The San Diego Pops orchestra put on a pregame concert in front of 16,051 but--for seven innings--the pop stopped there.
The Padres, who had scored just eight runs in their previous four games, managed only three hits until the eighth. Reuschel retired 16 straight batters during one stretch.
Hoyt was strong, too. Other than a few wayward ground balls that trickled through the infield, Hoyt really made one mistake--a pitch that Pirate catcher Tony Pena hit for a solo home run to left in fourth inning. That made it 2-0. In the first inning, R.J. Reynolds had chopped a slow grounder through the middle of the infield to score Ray from second base.
"I really wanted to smile," Gwynn said of his home-run trot. "But I told myself, 'What do you have to smile about? It's your only hit of the night!' "
And Gwynn had been so pessimistic before the game. Because of the Pops concert, there was no batting practice.
"I hate playing games with no batting practice," he had said with no clue of what lay three hours ahead.