PITTSBURGH — Fifteen hours after Friday night's numbing defeat, finding the league's third-best team back on the field waiting for them Saturday, the Padres were desperately in need of an elixir or two to make it through the day.
Surprise. They got them.
The pitching staff got heart and the hitters got lucky, and life was one big Saturday afternoon again as the Padres busted a six-game losing streak and defeated the Pittsburgh Pirates, 3-2, in front of 27,070 at Three Rivers Stadium.
The heart was Eric Show, further convincing teammates that he has his in the right place. He allowed four hits to the Pirates' first eight batters, then cleared his throat and allowed only one hit the rest of the game.
How impressive was he? Manager Larry Bowa used his name and a form of the word \o7 guts \f7 in the same sentence. It's on at least one tape.
"A gutty outing," Bowa said. "A \o7 great game\f7 . It's the kind of stuff I expect out of Eric."
Now for the luck: The offense, the beneficiary of only two balks by opposing pitchers all season, was given two on one batter. Reliever Jim Gott's eighth-inning balks moved Roberto Alomar from first to third, and he scored the winning run on Tony Gwynn's single.
Another balk set up the Padres' second run, in the fourth inning, as Randy Ready was balked to third by Pirate starter John Smiley just before Dickie Thon hit a two-out single to shallow left to score him.
How much do the Padres hate to win on an umpire's decision? Considering that homers and doubles and triples haven't worked too well for them, they'll gladly try balks.
"When the guy told me to go to second and go to third, I was surprised," said Alomar, who had reached first on a looping leadoff single up the middle. "But then I thought, 'Hey, maybe he'll tell me to go home, too.' "
Said Gwynn: "It's about time we take advantage of that new rule."
Entering Saturday's game, the only advantage the Padres had was that they weren't at home where their fans could boo them.
After Friday's 4-1 loss in 12 innings, bullpen aces Mark Davis and Lance McCullers were spent. The offense, which had only 6 hits in those 12 innings and 36 runs in its past 13 games, was flat stuck.
"We needed to shake some things up," Bowa said.
The first thing he did was bench three regulars--Keith Moreland, Benito Santiago and Garry Templeton--and replace them with Randy Ready, Mark Parent and Dickie Thon.
"If you are not scoring runs with a lineup, you are beating your heads against the wall by continually sticking with that lineup," Bowa explained.
Then he canceled batting practice for the first time this year, ordering everyone to sleep in.
"I figured our hitting is not going to get any worse," Bowa said.
Then he crossed his fingers on Show, who threw a shutout two starts ago against St. Louis and, in his most recent start, allowed the Pirates just three runs in six innings last Sunday in San Diego.
"He knew what this meant," Bowa said. "He knew our bullpen was tired and that we really needed a strong outing from him."
So what happens? The Padres' offense goes down against Smiley in the first inning in \o7 two minutes\f7 . The Pirates come up against Show in the first and it's like this:
Double by R.J. Reynolds. Double by Jose Lind. Single by Andy Van Slyke.
In the dugout, Bowa, who couldn't take advantage of his own rest orders because he tossed and turned until 4 a.m. Saturday, stared at the floor.
"I said, 'Oh no, not another sleepless night,' " he recounted.
The only person not worried was Show.
"I knew I was going to find it," he said later. "I just had to concentrate."
An ambiguous term, \o7 concentration, \f7 but in Saturday's first inning, it meant three consecutive Pirate outs, with only one ball hit in fair territory.
Bobby Bonilla, the National League's player of the month for April and a league leader in most hitting categories, fouled out down the third-base line. Sid Bream, who won Friday's game with a three-run homer in the 12th, also fouled out down the third-base line. Darnell Coles, hitting .400 with runners in scoring position, flied out to right.
Show gave up another run in the third, but it involved only one base hit (Al Pedrique's), surrounded by a walk and a sacrifice bunt and a ground out. The impression of toughness had been left, and for the remaining seven innings, it stuck to the Pirates like a Pittsburgh midsummer night.
"I found a good groove," said Show, who is now 2-4 with a 4.26 ERA and team-leading two complete games, almost half as many as last season's five. "I didn't let any negative thoughts enter the picture. Negative thoughts can hamper you. After all these years, I've learned that."
Parent, who has caught Show through three shutouts and a one-hitter, put it a different way.
"Show has become a gamer," he said. "He's got a little bit of battle on the mound now. Before, he only had battle in the dugout or the clubhouse after the game.