CHICAGO — If you're wondering about Padre intensity, you will be glad to know that Tim Flannery led off Tuesday's game with a grounder to first and then dived headfirst trying to beat it out.
But if you're wondering about Padre hitters, you should know that they're wondering, too. For the fifth straight game, they made a mortal pitcher look immortal as they lost, 6-4, to Ed Lynch and the Chicago Cubs in front of 27,044 at Wrigley Field.
This time, Lynch--a good pitcher, but not good enough to be a New York Met, so he was traded to the Cubs this month--took a 6-0 lead into the seventh inning before the Padres rallied for four in the eighth.
Lee Smith--whose fastballs seem even more brisk at dusk--started the ninth inning and gave up a one-out single to Carmelo Martinez and a walk to Tim Flannery. Tony Gwynn--just 3 for his last 18--was up next, and he rocketed a ball hard to the left side.
But Shawon Dunston scooped it and flipped it to second for one out. And Ryne Sandberg threw to first to complete the game-ending double play.
For the first time all year, the Padres fell two games under .500 (46-48). Players had few explanations--other than pitcher LaMarr Hoyt, who didn't pitch Tuesday but said he thought the attitude wasn't good and that the team reminded him of a "harpooned fish that's about to die."
Steve Garvey, who was benched Tuesday in favor of John Kruk, had this assessment: "We are baseball's real charity team. We really pick up the spirits of a lot of teams. We do a great service for baseball humanity. We're really making a lot of other people happy, but it's time we make ourselves happy."
Manager Steve Boros tried, but what else can he do? He woke up abruptly at 5:30 Tuesday morning and brainstormed a lineup with Kruk batting third against the right-hander Lynch instead of Garvey; Kevin McReynolds batting cleanup; Flannery leading off; and Marvell Wynne batting seventh, so he can drive in some runs.
So his first three hitters would be Flannery, Gwynn and Kruk--who have the three best on-base percentages on the team.
But between them, they reached base a combined four times.
The eighth inning was encouraging, though. Dane Iorg had a pinch-hit single, followed by a Flannery single. Gwynn then drove in a run with a single, before Kruk struck out and McReynolds flied out. Jerry Royster pinch-hit for Graig Nettles and singled in a run. A wild pitch got runners to second and third, and pinch-hitter Bruce Bochy singled in two more runs.
Garvey then pinch-hit for Wynne, and he rifled a ball down to third, but Chris Speier gloved it and threw him out to end the rally.
So pitcher Lance McCullers' solid performance was wasted. He left in the seventh inning with the score 4-0, but he had only given up six hits. For the first time in his major league career, he refused to talk to the media afterward. Upset? Frustrated?
"Probably frustrated," Hoyt said. "He probably doesn't want to say anything he doesn't mean."
Boros, whose team is in its longest losing streak of the year, says he has no idea what lineup he will run out there today in the final game of the three-game series.
"I just don't know," he said. "I came up with this lineup at 5:30 in the morning. I guess you can call me at 5:30 tomorrow (Wednesday) to see what I've come up with. . . . Managers wake up at 5:30 when they've lost this many in a row and their team has scored 56 runs in 17 games (now it's 60 runs in 18 games)."
A reporter reminded him that he doesn't pitch or hit, so he couldn't possibly blame himself.
"Yeah, I tell myself that--I even tell my wife that--before I go to bed, and I'm still up at 5:30."
Lynch was helped by Jerry Mumphrey, who began the game with a walk, a single and a double, pushing his on-base streak to seven straight at-bats. The big Cub inning was the seventh, and it started when Gary Matthews reached base on Nettles' fielding error (Dave Martinez pinch-ran). Leon Durham's double to left-center scored Martinez from first, and Keith Moreland and Ron Cey followed with RBI base hits.
Lynch's record with the Cubs is now 2-1. The Mets traded him (for a player to be named) because they already had five solid starters, and he was No. 6.
"To me it's no insult to be the sixth starter on the best pitching staff in the major leagues," Lynch said. "It's no insult. It was a business transaction. They had too many quality starting pitchers. I've shown I can start and win in the big leagues. Just because they had great ones, that doesn't take anything away from me."
The Padres did end up getting three of their runs off Lynch.
"Yeah, we did come back," Gwynn said. "If you want to call it that. I guess 6-4 looks better in the paper than 6-0, but what the hell?"
Flannery, with ice packs on his ankle and shoulder, said: "I'm beat up. . . . I went out there playing kamikaze style."
And he still lost.