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Grant Hops to It, Gives Padres a Giant Win, 3-1

July 12, 1987|BILL PLASCHKE | Times Staff Writer

PITTSBURGH — For the better part of a hot and bothersome evening Saturday, Padre pitcher Mark Grant hopped around as if he were in a cold shower.

On one bunt by the Pirates, he leaped off the mound and to his right, nearly colliding with his third baseman, grabbed the ball from a stunned Chris Brown and threw out the runner.

On a couple of grounders to second base, he raced over to cover first base, apparently unaware that, at least for the last century, a first baseman has been stationed there.

Finally, in disgust after one base hit, he hopped off the back of the mound, turned around and wouldn't face home plate. Catcher Benito Santiago paused, shrugged and threw the ball back to Brown, the third baseman.

"That was weird, wasn't it?" asked Grant, he of the spiked blond hair. "I thought, well, maybe they are making a pitching change and Brownie is the new pitcher."

There was a method to Grant's madness. He allowed only one unearned run in 7 innings as the Padres won, 3-1, and broke a four-game losing streak despite nine Pirate hits.

And it was weird, wasn't it?

Call it the Padres' first Giant victory.

Not only did Grant get his first victory since he came over from San Francisco in last weekend's seven-player trade, but reliever Mark Davis, also acquired in the trade, got his first save. And Brown, the most celebrated of the newly acquired Padres, was involved in the Pirates' last three outs in the ninth.

"Hey, the Giants finally did something," Grant said. "This is good for me, but it is better for the whole club."

It wasn't so good last Monday in his first start for the Padres.

Grant, 23, allowed six runs in 4 innings, including a pair of homers to Andre Dawson. He was so near his hometown of Joliet, Ill., and it was so soon after the departure of Padre favorite Dave Dravecky, who was sent to the Giants, that it left him feeling lousy.

"I really, really wanted to win bad in Chicago," he said. "I just made too many mistakes. Galen (pitching coach Cisco) then gave me a drill to keep my slider down by extending my body more. I think it worked."

It looked like it. His teammates saw the 6-foot 2-inch, 205-pound right-hander allow the lead-off runner to reach base in five of seven innings. But each time, he glared at the runner, pouted at the cheering fans--27,476 of them--and eventually stopped the threat.

"I try not to get worked up," he said. "But I'd be lying if I said I didn't hear the crowd and react."

Twice there was a runner on second with none out. Once there were runners on first and third with none out. Twice the Pirates had two straight hits to open the inning.

And the only run the Pirates managed was unearned, after first baseman John Kruk dropped a throw from shortstop Garry Templeton in the second inning. It allowed Bobby Bonilla to score from second base on Felix Fermin's grounder.

"What the heck, I'd rather let the first guy hit it than walk him," Grant said. "It seemed like there were always guys around me. My concentration was so good, I got it when I had to."

What the heck, the Pirates left 14 runners on base, leaving Manager Jimmy Leyland to throw up his hands and say, "What am I going to do? You don't cash in that many times, you're going to get burned."

Take the fifth. With the Padres ahead, 2-1, Grant's first pitch was hit up the middle to Johnny Ray for a single. Grant swung a fist through the air, then on the next pitch, picked off Ray.

Sid Bream followed with a single to left, and Jim Morrison moved him to second with a ground out. No problem. Grant retired Bonilla on an split-finger fastball that Bonilla lunged at, tapping into short left field, where Templeton chased it down over his shoulder.

For those who appreciate intestinal fortitude, it was one of the best-pitched games of this trip, or any Padre trip. Padre General Manager Jack McKeon has already taken one look at Grant's free-spirited hair style and dress and dubbed him the "The Boz," after tough and wild linebacker Brian Bosworth. Saturday night, the nickname fit.

"I tell you, Grant has got something," Manager Larry Bowa said. "All those guys on base, and almost nothing.

"And he was all over the place out there. I bet he's the best conditioned athlete on the team. I remember him in the Pacific Coast League last year, running around in 100-degree weather. You can't slow him down."

Grant said Saturday night was hotter: "It was 800 degrees, with 100% humidity," he said, although, to be exact, it was 80 degrees. "All I know is, I'm an intense player with only one way to go into the game all the time. I used to be so intense I would be wild, but I think I've learned to stay under control."

That sort of control rubbed off on left-handed Davis, who had helped lose Friday night's game (6-5 in 11 innings) when he couldn't get an out while facing four batters, all left-handers.

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