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Uribe Homer in Ninth Propels Giants to 4-3 Victory Over Padres

September 15, 1987|BILL PLASCHKE | Times Staff Writer

SAN FRANCISCO — The wind forced Chris Brown to fasten the top button on his windbreaker Monday when he took the Candlestick Park field for the first time in a uniform other than that of the San Francisco Giants.

"No difference, just cold," said the Padres third baseman before the game the Padres lost, 4-3, to the Giants when Jose Uribe hit a ninth-inning homer off Lance McCullers.

For parts of four seasons here, that's how it had been for Brown, not just on this multi-shaded grass but throughout the clubhouse and and in his mind. His former Giants' teammates had questioned his durability, his pain threshold, his willingness to play when not perfect.

Brown, who missed 117 of a possible 434 Giants' games with injuries, heard the talk, ignored it, then came to the Padres in a seven-player July 4 trade just wanting to try it all again. And wanting one day to get even.

"If I have a chance to win this thing . . . " he said before Monday's game.

He didn't. And he won't.

In an act as ironic and unsettling as the Padres have seen this season, the first pitch thrown to Brown by his old team broke his right hand and put him out for the year.

"He has the worst luck," said pitcher Mark Davis, who was with Brown on the Giants. "It's incredible how much he has gone through. Today in batting practice he was hitting monsters. He was coming back."

It happened in the second inning, on a Mike Krukow fastball, and proved to be a told-you-so start in a game that the Padres could have used to vault out of last place for the first time this season.

The Dodgers, one game ahead, lost to Houston. The Padres came back to tie the game on a sixth-inning single by Benito Santiago. All seemed well.

But then McCullers, who had replaced starter Ed Whitson in the seventh, got a pitch up. He had been good for six of seven batters, allowing just a Kevin Mitchell single in the seventh, when he faced Uribe with one out in the ninth.

On a 1-and-1 pitch, Uribe put the ball over the right field fence, getting there just before a running Tony Gwynn. It was only his fourth homer, which followed a pattern set by the game's first batter, Ed Milner, who hit Whitson for just his third homer.

"I was just looking for something to hit hard, maybe get to second base," Uribe said. "I never think home run."

The National League West-leading Giants, whose magic number has been reduced to 13 games with 18 to play, have won three games with homers in their final at-bat.

If and when the Giants clinch it, the Padres will understand how. Of 10 Padres' losses to the Giants this year, eight have come by one run.

"You can tell they're a championship team. They can smell it," Gwynn said. "They're finding a way to win, they're getting all the breaks."

Brown can't get any breaks . . . except this one he didn't want. One-half inning after Giants third baseman Mitchell was hit by a Whitson fastball, Brown, who changed places with Mitchell in that July 4 deal, must have figured something was up. Coincidence or not, he was hit so hard by a Krukow fastball, the ball bounced off the hand and off the dirt and into foul territory.

Brown walked to first base, where he was soon joined by Manager Larry Bowa and trainer Dick Dent. Minutes later, Brown emerged from the crowd, flung his helmet down the first base line, and, amid boos and cheers, walked the lonely walk down the right field line to the clubhouse.

He was taken to the Urgent Care Hospital in Palo Alto, where X-rays revealed a break in the fifth metacarpal bone of his right hand.

With injuries that some Padres thought were minor, he had already missed 19 of 63 starts since joining the club. Now, he will miss the final 19.

After struggling with a sore wrist and knee, Brown had recently come around to hit in six of his last seven games at a .320 pace (8-for-25) with 3 homers and 8 RBIs. Overall, he was hitting .237 with 12 homers and 40 RBIs.

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