If Don Zimmer had known about the play in advance, he probably would have called it off. But he didn't have the chance, and his Chicago Cubs ended up with a 4-3 victory over the Montreal Expos at Chicago Monday.
With two Expos on base and two out in the top of the ninth, reliever Mitch Williams executed a play he had planned with first baseman Lloyd McClendon.
McClendon wasn't holding pinch-runner Jeff Huson on base. After making one pitch to pinch-hitter Nelson Santovenia, Williams turned and bounced a throw to McClendon, who had sneaked in behind Huson. McClendon made the tag, ending the game.
Reliever Les Lancaster retired the first two batters in the ninth before Damaso Garcia and Mike Fitzgerald singled. Williams then was called upon.
"When I was warming up, Mac (McClendon) asked about a pickoff and I said 'second pitch,' " Williams said. "It was a set play."
Williams said he bounced the ball to first because if the play didn't work, "I didn't want the ball to go far enough for the runners to run all around."
Expo Manager Buck Rodgers protested the game. "The rule is hazy but the first baseman can't deceive the runner when he's not on the bag," Rodgers said.
Said Zimmer: "There is no rule on the first baseman coming from behind to the bag to take a pickoff throw. They got caught sleeping."
The umpires agreed. Crew chief Doug Harvey said that the rule is designed to preclude a first baseman coming in on a bunt situation, taking a throw from the pitcher and then throwing to second to get a moving runner.
San Diego 7, Houston 3--Garry Templeton hit the Padres' club-record fifth grand slam of the season to fuel a six-run sixth inning at San Diego.
The Padres moved into second place in the West but remained six games behind the first-place San Francisco Giants, who beat Atlanta. The third-place Astros fell seven games out.
San Francisco 3, Atlanta 2--Will Clark singled home the go-ahead run in the eighth inning, giving Scott Garrelts his seventh straight victory, at San Francisco.
Garrelts (13-3) is 7-0 with a 1.26 earned-run average in nine starts since his last loss, on June 25.
Pittsburgh 3, St. Louis 1--Spot starter Neal Heaton gave up two hits in six innings and Barry Bonds' run-scoring double keyed a three-run rally in the seventh inning for the Pirates at St. Louis.
The Cardinals' third straight loss dropped them 3 1/2 games behind Chicago, the Cubs' widest margin since Aug. 18. Pedro Guerrero got his career-high 104th RBI with a sacrifice fly in the Cardinals' fourth.
New York 5, Philadelphia 2--Kevin McReynolds drove in four runs, including a three-run homer in the first inning, for New York as the Mets started a 10-game trip.
The Mets, who are 28-40 on the road, moved into third place ahead of Montreal in the East.