SAN DIEGO — Fans cheering for Ed Whitson? The honeymoon lasted five batters.
Padre fans cheered for Whitson as he headed to the bullpen before Saturday night's game, but it didn't take long for some of them to pick up where Yankee fans left off.
That is, booing the former Padre pitcher who was booed out of Yankee Stadium.
Making his first start in more than a month, Whitson gave up two seeing-eye singles, two doubles (one was a soft liner to the opposite field), a stolen base and three runs to the first five Cardinal hitters.
St. Louis made those runs hold up in a 4-2 victory in front of 38,621 at San Diego Jack Murphy Stadium.
However, the Padres' lack of timely hitting was more to blame for the loss than Whitson's performance, which turned out to be encouraging.
Much more encouraging than the Padre hitting in the clutch.
San Diego outhit the Cardinals, 10-7, but tied a team record by hitting into five double plays. The previous mark was set in a 6-0 victory against the Braves last Aug. 1.
"We had our chances," Padre Manager Steve Boros said. "But five double plays? I wouldn't have believed it, but I saw it for myself.
"Again, we couldn't punch them baserunners across. And we're putting a lot of pressure on our pitchers."
The Padres have scored just 27 runs in 10 games on this homestand and are 5-5 against the weakest teams in the Eastern Division.
The way Saturday's game started, it appeared that the Padres might be blown away.
But Whitson settled down.
The mellow boos from San Diego fans were easier for Whitson to handle than the ruthless yells and threats from fans in the Big Apple.
In New York, Whitson became so psyched out that he could not even pitch at Yankee Stadium. However, after his rocky first inning Saturday he settled down to allow just one run and three hits.
"I heard the warm welcome, but I didn't even hear the boos," said Whitson, who stayed in the clubhouse and talked to reporters despite leaving the game after five innings. "I don't care about boo birds. I'm just concentrating on winning. Going out on this mound here, I enjoy pitching. I'm relieved. I did my worrying in New York. It's time to relax and enjoy the ballgame."
In five innings, Whitson allowed four runs and seven hits, walked one and struck out two.
"I thought Whit threw the ball well," Boros said. "He had good velocity but wasn't real sharp with his pitches. He got better and I was pleased with his overall performance."
Whitson wasn't thrilled with his performance, but wasn't overly disappointed considering that he had faced only one batter in 19 days.
"This was like the first day of spring training for me," Whitson said. "It takes time. I take things like these in stride. I know I have to get my feet back on the ground. . . .
"Without a doubt, I could have gone further. I got stronger as the game went on. But I knew he Boros would only let me go four or five innings."
In the bottom of the fifth, with the Padres trailing, 4-2, and a runner on first, Dane Iorg pinch-hit for Whitson and singled to center. That placed runners at the corners, but Marvell Wynne bounced into a well-executed first-to-short-to-first double play. It was the second double play the speedy Wynne (of all people) bounced into.
Carmelo Martinez, starting in place of Steve Garvey at first, hit into a double play with runners on first and second in the fourth. Graig Nettles' liner to first baseman Andy Van Slyke resulted in a double play in the sixth.
Jerry Royster, pinch-hitting for Tim Flannery in the seventh, bounced into a double play against reliever Ken Dayley with runners on first and second.
That was the last good scoring chance for the Padres, who never could make up for the Cardinals' first-inning uprising.
Vince Coleman bounced a single to right and immediately stole second (his 58th). After Ozzie Smith bounced to second, Willie McGee had an RBI single to right. Van Slyke had an RBI double down the first-base line on a ball that went past Martinez.
"It looked like Martinez had a chance," Boros said. "But the ball seemed to get caught in the lights."
Curt Ford followed with an RBI double to left. It was 3-0.
"Take away that three-run first inning and we might be celebrating Eddie's first win since he came back," Boros said.
And take away the five double plays the Padres hit into.