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Padres' Weekend Is Complete as Grant Beats Phillies, 6-1

August 31, 1987|BILL PLASCHKE | Times Staff Writer

SAN DIEGO — Things are getting a little tense around the Padre pitching rotation. Guys are spending days looking everywhere but straight ahead. Guys are spending nights fighting with their pillows.

Saturday, 23-year-old Eric Nolte had a four-hit, complete-game victory against Philadelphia. This was one day after 23-year-old Jimmy Jones lost for the first time in six decisions.

Mark Grant, who also happens to be 23, took all of this in. Then he went home Saturday night and tossed.

"I got hardly any sleep . . . just nine hours," explained Grant. "Usually I get 12. I'm like a koala bear. I love to sleep. I sleep all the time. But not last night."

He dragged himself to the ballpark Sunday morning, put on a uniform, and then spent nine innings telling Nolte and Jones, in so many pitches, to take that .

Grant threw his first complete game in the big leagues. The Padres had their first back-to-back complete games in more than two years. They defeated the Philadelphia Phillies, 6-1, at San Diego Jack Murphy Stadium for their second straight victory and Manager Larry Bowa was smiling like a proud father.

"I've talked to these kids about jobs next year, and they know that no jobs are going to be given away," he said. "They are pitching now like they know spring training is going to be a dogfight. The strong will survive. The weak will go down.

"Today Mark was saying, 'Hey, a guy like Nolte is in my same age bracket. I better show them something.' "

Grant shrugged. Who, him?

"With all of the competition in our rotation, maybe it takes one guy to go out and pitch great to get everybody else going," he said. "Now, I didn't go home and say, 'Nolte and Jones are throwing good, I've got to throw good.'

"But . . . well, I'm a firm believer that good pitching is just as contagious as good hitting."

In other words, Nolte and Jones, it's your turn.

Actually more impressive than the back-to-back complete games, a feat that last achieved by Eric Show and Andy Hawkins on Aug. 21-22 in Montreal, was the fact that Grant had back-to-back decent games.

Against Montreal here Tuesday, Grant allowed one run on five hits in 7 innings in a 5-1 victory. That means, in two outings, he is 2-0 with a 1.08 ERA. Overall, he's 5-7 with a 4.32 ERA.

The Phillies, meanwhile, wish the Padres would play these little mind games with somebody else. If you believe Philadelphia Manager Lee Elia, the Padres have formally dumped the Phillies out of a pennant race.

The Phillies dropped two of three games in this series, they've lost five of their last six, and Sunday finally made Elia confess to, for the first time, the rather obvious.

"I'd like to finish second, now that first place is going to be difficult," he said, his team now 11 1/2 out of first in the National League East.

Grant's performance overshadowed another marvelous game by Padre outfielder Marvell Wynne. Less than 24 hours after he won Saturday's game with a two-run, pinch-hit single, Wynne made a surprise start and homered for the first time since opening night. It was a two-run shot in the sixth. He also tripled and scored in the third, and next time Stanley Jefferson comes down with a sore back, just give him a call.

"They told me about Stanley's back about 45 minutes before the game," said Wynne, the club's best pinch-hitter, who took Jefferson's place in center field. "That was enough time. That was plenty of time. I take things day by day. Whatever they want me to do, I'm all for it."

Said Bowa: "He's just a great guy to have on a team."

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