SAN DIEGO — Larry Bowa, who managed the Las Vegas Stars to the Pacific Coast League championship Friday, was here Sunday to meet with the media and to watch some of his Triple-A players make their major league debuts for the Padres against the division-leading Houston Astros.
Tim Pyznarski, Benito Santiago, Randy Asadoor and Gary Green were all in the starting lineup. They found themselves up against the league's strikeout leader, Astro ace Mike Scott, to which Bowa said: "Whew, that's an awfully tough way to have to break in."
And it was tough. Scott struck out 14, his career high, and eight of his K's were against Bowa's players. Asadoor struck out three times.
But Carmelo Martinez came to the rescue with one out in the bottom of the ninth inning, hitting a two-run pinch-hit homer off Scott to provide the Padres with a 3-2 victory in front of 14,684 fans.
Bowa, meanwhile, watched the game from Padre president Ballard Smith's box. Before the game, he sat in one of the television booths and answered questions.
--About the rumors that he might have a shot at becoming the Padre manager next season, he said: "That's exactly what it is--a rumor. Nobody has mentioned anything to me about it."
--About whether he'd take the job if it were offered: "I'd be lying if I said I didn't want a job like that. But, like I said, I've heard nothing about it."
--About why, then, was he in town for most of the weekend: "I've met with (general manager) Jack (McKeon) several times and he just wanted to get my opinions on some of the new players."
--About what he plans to do next season: "I really don't know yet. I'm not sidestepping the question, but I just don't know. I'd love to go in the direction of managing, but we'll have to wait until the end of the season. I also may have an opportunity to do some announcing with WGN in Chicago on the Cubs games."
But Sunday, all he had to do was watch his players. And while he watched, they had some troubles at the plate against Scott, whose 14 strikeouts gave him 274 for the season, far and away the most in the majors.
Santiago and Green fared the best, each stroking a double in three at-bats. But for the most part, Scott's fastball was a bit too much for Bowa's players to handle.
"They're all very aggressive," Padre Manager Steve Boros said. "They just couldn't lay off his high, hard stuff."
The other Padres were also having problems. Of those in the starting lineup, only Tony Gwynn, who had two hits, and Tim Flannery didn't strike out.
Houston, meanwhile, had scored a run in the first and a run in the fourth--on Kevin Bass' 20th home run--for a 2-0 lead against Andy Hawkins.
The Padres got a run back in the fourth but seemed to be up against it until their last two outs in the ninth against Scott.
With the youngsters due up, Boros went to his bench and found Terry Kennedy, who lined a single to right. Then came Martinez, who hit a 1-1 fastball into the seats in left field for his eighth home run.
"I knew Scott was throwing good but I didn't know he had that many strikeouts," Martinez said. "He made a pretty good pitch, low and outside. I don't know how I hit it out to left."
For Martinez, a starter at the beginning of the season but now a player whose future with the Padres is in doubt, it was his second pinch-hit home run of the season.
"I don't know about my future with this team, but I do know that I have a future in baseball," Martinez said. "I know I can still play, but I don't want to play in the situation I've played in this year. I may have to go somewhere else."
Meanwhile, the Padres are going places, even if it isn't far. With Atlanta's loss to San Francisco Sunday, San Diego escaped the cellar and moved into fifth place.
On the other hand, the Astros are beginning to look over their shoulders a bit. With two straight losses in the bottom of the ninth inning here, Houston's lead is down to seven games over Cincinnati with 19 remaining. The Astros now travel to Cincinnati to meet the Reds in a three-game series beginning Tuesday.
Jerry Kapstein confirmed Sunday that he and the Padres are still making an effort to solve their dispute concerning reliever Rich (Goose) Gossage. Gossage, who was suspended without pay on Aug. 29 for criticizing the Padre front office, has a hearing scheduled Friday in Houston, but Kapstein said: "The talks between me and Ballard (Smith) have been very friendly in spirit. Rich and I intend to keep the lines of communication open." . . . The Padres are off today before beginning a two-game series at home against San Francisco Tuesday.