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Padres Still Lack Winning Moves : They Miss Out on Opportunities in 5-2 Loss to Astros

June 19, 1989|SCOTT MILLER

SAN DIEGO — Let's see, the San Francisco Giants acquired relief pitcher Steve Bedrosian Sunday, and the New York Mets picked up Juan Samuel.

The Padres, meanwhile, put runners on second and third with none out in the first inning, and failed to drive them home.

The Giants and Mets are a couple of serious pennant contenders who are making their moves.

The Padres? Well, they committed three errors Sunday--all by third baseman Luis Salazar--and gave up two more home runs to boost their league-leading total to 64. Even Tony Gwynn, who set a club record by reaching base nine consecutive times over the last three games, couldn't save them.

The Padres dressed quietly after their 5-2 loss to the Houston Astros in front of 21,337 in San Diego Jack Murphy Stadium. It was another day of staring into their lockers and mumbling.

Another day, another batting cage full of missed opportunities. There are questions everywhere and answers nowhere.

When will something happen?

"I don't have an answer for that," Garry Templeton said. "We've got to keep playing hard. Key hitters have to make a few more adjustments. If we don't adjust, we're going to keep coming in here and wondering why the hell we're losing."

This from a man who went two for four, giving him 14 hits in his last 41 at-bats--a .341 batting average in his last 11 games.

Across the clubhouse, Gwynn tried to make sense out of a season that, for the most part, has gotten more frustrating by the day. His three-for-three day improved his average to .356, which bumps him ahead of Cincinnati's Barry Larkin (.355), for the National League lead. After a one-for-16 dry spell, Gwynn has seven hits and two walks in his last nine at-bats.

"We just didn't capitalize," he said. "Just like the night before, and the night before that, and the night before that. This club, every run we get we have to scratch for.

"The biggest difference between this year and last year in terms of personnel is that we don't execute. It's obvious. We've got to start executing."

Houston's Billy Hatcher started the game with a sharp grounder that was fumbled by Salazar, who proceeded to pick up the ball and heave it far over Jack Clark's head at first.

But there was a reprieve. Hatcher rounded first base and an alert Clark threw to catcher Mark Parent, who was backing up the play and tagged Hatcher for the out.

No matter. With two out, Bill Doran singled and Glenn Davis followed with a hard one-hopper that whizzed by Salazar for another error. Terry Puhl and Ken Caminiti followed with singles.

It was 2-0, Houston, with Mike Scott on the mound.

So San Diego's first three hitters--Shawn Abner, Roberto Alomar and Gwynn--all singled. Abner scored on Gwynn's bunt single, Gwynn took second and Alomar third on Doran's throwing error.

Then, poof. Jack Clark struck out. Marvell Wynne struck out. Salazar struck out.

"We've got to get a run home in that situation," Gwynn said. "At least one run. We've got to put the ball in play. Make contact. You just have to put the ball in play."

Said Padre Manager Jack McKeon: "No different today than what we've talked about all year. It doesn't really matter who you put in there, you get the same thing. The game was ours to take in the first inning. One in, runners on second and third, and no outs. We've got to get one run.

"I can see certain nights when they'll stop you, but it's every night. The law of averages is going to catch up to us sooner or later. It has to."

The law of averages, it seems, is way overdue for an appearance when Terrell (4-9) is on the mound. He lasted seven innings Sunday, allowing six hits and three runs--just one earned. He has lost his last four starts, and the Padres have scored a measly 19 runs in his nine losses--a 2.1 average.

"He pitched a damn good game," McKeon said. "One earned run . . . if we get another run or two in the first, it might have been a different ballgame."

Terrell's biggest mistake was in the seventh inning, a three-and-one fastball to Craig Biggio. It wound up in the right-field stands to give the Astros a 3-2 lead.

"He had a bad back the whole game," Padre pitching coach Pat Dobson said. "But he pitched very well."

Terrell left the clubhouse quickly and could not be asked about his back which, according to Dobson, bothered him all day Sunday.

"My guess is that he'll be all right," Dobson said. "He was well enough to pitch today."

Mark Grant pitched the final two innings and was touched for a two-run homer in the eighth by Caminiti. That effectively finished off the Padres.

"I struck him out on off-speed stuff (Friday) night, and then tonight he hit it out," Grant said. "I'm throwing the ball the best I can now. I feel I'm in a groove. Just once, I'd like to go out there and hold a one-run deficit."

Entering Sunday's game, the only National League teams with fewer home runs than Houston's 35 were St. Louis and Los Angeles. But Houston defeated the Padres Friday with two home runs and beat them Sunday with two more.

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