CHICAGO — On Friday, for the second time in three days, the Padres gave reliever Lance McCullers the ball and watched him give away the game.
McCullers, apparently Goose Gossage's heir apparent, took the mound at dusk with a one-run lead in the eighth inning. And quicker than you can say "turn on the lights," Chicago Cub outfielder Andre Dawson turned on the crowd of 16,100 at Wrigley Field with a game-tying 400-foot home run to center field.
One base hit and one walk later, shortstop Shawon Dunston lined a single to left field that scored pinch-runner Greg Maddux with the winning run. The Cubs won by two, 7-5, and McCullers later lost his cool, as he screamed at a reporter afterward: "Leave me alone!"
The loss, the Padres' third straight, spoiled the Chicago homecoming of San Diego Manager Larry Bowa, who was a Cub for 3 1/2 years earlier this decade. Bowa might just leave McCullers alone the next time there is a save opportunity.
"In St. Louis (Wednesday) and today, we were ahead, and Lance hasn't done the job," Bowa said. "The bottom line is that the man's not doing the job. You can go and talk over the whole game, but he didn't do the job. It's that simple."
Which brings us to Goose. Gossage, a 35-year-old reliever, has yet to pitch this season, because of a pulled muscle in his rib cage. And no one has really said, "We miss him," until Friday.
Gossage, who may come off the disabled list as soon as next week, said Friday: "Wish I could help."
McCullers was throwing things after Friday's game and clearly is letting the defeats get him down. Catcher Benito Santiago thinks McCullers should have been throwing all fastballs in that eighth inning, because it was getting dark, not to mention pretty chilly.
"I think he should just throw it," Santiago said. "Forget the slider (which Dawson hit)."
Meanwhile, pitching coach Galen Cisco thinks Santiago is wrong. All along, Cisco has urged McCullers to mix his 90 m.p.h. fastball with sliders and changeups.
"It's tough to be a one-pitch pitcher," Cisco said. "If you just rear back and throw, I don't care if it's a 110-m.p.h. fastball, it better be in the right spot. Don't worry. He feels bad about it, and I'm glad he does."
Actually, Bowa was pretty glad with how his Padres played--give or take a few boo-boos (by pitcher Eric Show, and third baseman Kevin Mitchell). They overcame a 4-2 deficit with a three-run seventh inning. First baseman Steve Garvey and center field Marvell Wynne each had RBIs, and left fielder John Kruk scored on Dickie Noles' wild pitch.
Then, Kruk nearly threw out Maddux at the plate on Dunston's winning base hit. Maddux, a pitcher, had pinch-run for catcher Jody Davis, and he took a small lead off second because he had been picked off in a similar situation the last time he pinch ran.
Third base coach John Vukovich waved Maddux in on Dunston's hit. Kruk fielded the ball quickly and threw, with the ball beating Maddux to the plate by a yard. However, the ball hopped once and got tangled up in the tall Wrigley Field infield grass. Santiago, the catcher, tried digging the ball out, but it hit him in the chest and bounced away. Still, Santiago was blocking the plate, and he was bowled over by a hard-charging Maddux.
"My heart kind of jumped when the ball beat me there," Maddux said. "Luckily, he bobbled it."
Show, who had shut out the Dodgers in his last start, was taken out after the fifth inning with the Cubs ahead, 3-2. He had given up two home runs.
The first one--in the the third inning--was hit by starting pitcher Scott Sanderson, who has hit one other home run in his major league career. Sanderson hit it so hard, it sailed over the left-field wall and out of the stadium.
"The pitch to Sanderson will never happen again," Show said. "Never. Home runs to virtual unknowns? Forget it. He hadn't swung at a pitch yet, and I was behind 2 and 1, so I laid a nothing fastball in there. Never again."
Keith Moreland hit the second--in the fourth inning--but Show said that one was legitimate.
Mitchell was thrown out of the game in the ninth inning by home plate umpire Bruce Froemming for arguing a call. Froemming had called him out on strikes twice earlier in the game.