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'OH NO, NOT AGAIN' : The Innings Just Kept Coming Until the Padres Finally Won It, 5-3, in the 17th

June 29, 1989|BOB NIGHTENGALE | Times Staff Writer

While most of you were tucked in bed Wednesday morning, the Padres staged their version of Late Night at the Ballpark, persevering through 17 innings for a 5-3 victory over the Dodgers.

By the time Jeff Hamilton grounded to shortstop Garry Templeton for the final out, the scoreboard clock read 12:58. It was 1:45 when the Padres finally had mustered enough energy to leave the ballpark, 2 a.m. when they reached their hotel.

That's what happens when you play 5 hours 21 minutes. Only six games have gone more innings in Padres' history, and just four have taken more time.

"I don't know about anyone else," Padre right fielder Tony Gwynn said, "but I was dragging after about the 10th inning. I didn't know how much longer I could last. But then some guy in the stands yelled out, 'Hey, as long as you hang in there, I'll be hanging there right with you.'

"It sounds funny, but I don't know if I could have made it without that guy."

Gwynn had a miserable time through nine innings, failing to hit the ball even out of the infield, but got his second wind and helped win the game after most of 37,385 originally in attendance had gone home.

The Padres appeared to have won when Tim Flannery's pinch-hit single in the top of the 13th scored Jack Clark to make it 3-2.

Uh-uh. It wouldn't be that easy. The Dodgers tied it in the bottom of the inning on a groundout by Mike Davis, then blew the opportunity to win when Alfredo Griffin's groundout left two runners stranded.

"When that happened," Padre Manager Jack McKeon said, "I just said, 'Oh no, not again.' "

So they went on to the 14th, the 15th, the 16th, with no end in sight. Pat Clements was getting the Dodgers out, and Tim Belcher did the same to the Padres.

It appeared the Padres would go down meekly again in the 17th when Roberto Alomar failed on a bunt attempt, then lined out and Gwynn hit what appeared to be a routine chopper to second. Oops. The ball took a funny hop over the head of second baseman Dave Anderson.

McKeon, cognizant by this time that the odds of getting two more hits were roughly the same as Jimmy Hoffa showing up at home, decided to send Gwynn toward second on a steal attempt. Catcher Rick Dempsey threw the ball to Anderson in plenty of time, but the tag was high.

Dodger Manager Tommy Lasorda, who knows better than anyone what can happen when you pitch to Jack Clark, ordered him walked this time. No matter. This strategy also backfired, as Chris James slapped a single to right, scoring Gwynn and advancing Clark to third. Garry Templeton hit a sacrifice fly for a two-run lead that the Padres would not blow.

The teams struck out 31 times and stranded 29 baserunners.

"Those are the toughest kind to lose," Flannery said. "When you play that long, there's nothing worse than losing. You'll do anything for a win no matter how long it takes.

"Once we got past the 11th, I think all of us were thinking about the Dodgers' (22-inning) game in Houston.

"With the way both teams were hitting, we thought this one might be going 40 innings."

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