SAN DIEGO — You ever have one of those days where nothing goes right? You know, the kind where your day's already miserable, and you haven't even gone to work yet.
Well, Friday just happened to be one of those dog days for Padre center fielder Joe Carter and catcher Benito Santiago.
Carter's day began on a treadmill at 6:30 in the morning at the Scripps Clinic, where he took a physical required by the incoming Padre ownership group. He returned home and tried to catch some sleep, but his realtor picked this day to show his house to prospective buyers. What was a man to do but leave early and find some peace at the ballpark?
Santiago, meanwhile, knew Friday's game against the Dodgers was a 7:35 p.m., and strolled into the clubhouse about 4:45. One problem. The team and front-office employees were in left field having a photograph taken for outgoing owner Joan Kroc. Sorry, Mrs. K, it's going to be missing an All-Star catcher.
So, with all of this havoc, just take a wild guess who were the offensive heroes in the Padres' 12-6 victory over the Dodgers in front of 34,641 at San Diego Jack Murphy Stadium?
Yep, Joe Carter drove in three runs, including a two-run homer, and scored the go-ahead run in the seventh inning.
And Santiago just happened to be the one who belted the three-run homer in the seventh, the seventh of the game and the one the Dodgers couldn't overcome.
Craig Lefferts pitched 2 1/3 shutout innings for the victory, the Padres' 11th in their past 14 games. And all of a sudden, the Padres (29-24) find themselves just 6 1/2 games behind division-leading Cincinnati. It's the closest they've been since May 12.
The Carter-Santiago duo broke open a 6-6 tie in the seventh, and by the time the inning finally ended, the Padres had sent 11 batters to the plate, scoring six runs. It was the seventh time in the past 11 games that the Padres have batted around in an inning.
Carter, who has seven homers in his past 17 hits, opened the floodgates with one out in the seventh when he hit a sharp grounder to shortstop Alfredo Griffin, which bounced off Griffin's knee and caromed into foul territory behind third base. By the time the ball was retrieved, Carter was standing on second.
Phil Stephenson followed with a walk, bringing Santiago to the plate. He ran the count to 2-1 against Jim Gott, the Dodgers' third pitcher of the night. The next pitch was a fastball. It was neatly deposited deep into the left-field seats, just missing the upper deck.
"As soon as I hit it, I knew it was gone," Santiago said, "but I lost it in the lights. I didn't know it it would be fair, so I looked at the umpire, and I became a happy man."
It was all the Padres would need, but they continued to pour it on until Tony Gwynn's two-run single climaxed their third six-run inning in the past 11 games.
The Padres appeared for a while as if they would win in a rout. They were cruising along in the sixth inning with hardly a care in the world.
They had a 5-1 lead.
Ed Whitson, who had thrown just 51 pitches, was on the mound.
The Reds had lost again for the fourth time in five days.
But all of a sudden, with one out, Whitson lost it. He had wrenched his back in the fourth inning on his run-scoring single, and now, of all times, the pain began to emerge.
He issued his first walk, to pinch-hitter Stan Javier. Lenny Harris followed by lining the next pitch into right field, only the third hit allowed by Whitson, and the Dodgers had two baserunners in an inning for the first time.
Next up: Kirk Gibson, who was making just his fifth start of the season after spending the first two months of the season on the disabled list with a torn hamstring tendon.
First pitch: Home run into the right-field seats, Gibson's first of the season.
Pat Dobson, Padre pitching coach, immediately summoned Greg Harris from the bullpen. Harris had not thrown more than a handful of warmup pitches, but because of the injury to Whitson, he was allowed to throw as many as he desired on the mound.
He should have thrown one more.
Kal Daniels hit his first pitch over the center-field fence, and all of sudden, it was tie game, 5-5.
It then became the battle of the bullpens. Neither was pretty, and at times, they looked downright ugly.
But as beleaguered as the Padres' middle relief has been, they proved Friday that they'll match bullpens with the Dodgers any night of the week.
The Padres broke the tie in the bottom of the sixth when third baseman Mike Pagliarulo hit his second home run of the season.
That lead lasted, oh, about five minutes. With two outs in the seventh, Chris Gwynn, Tony's brother, hit an opposite-field home run over the left-field fence.
Most remarkable was not so much that it was the first home run in Chris Gwynn's career but that Harris had allowed as many home runs in 1 1/3 innings as he had in his previous 79 dating back to Aug. 22, 1989.
"My first thought was, 'It's going to be a long drive to the house tonight,' " Tony Gwynn said.