The slumping San Diego Padres, losers of 15 of their last 18 games, dropped a long and wild 16-inning marathon to the Chicago Cubs, 9-6, before a crowd of 51,917 at Jack Murphy Stadium. An error and a 2-run homer by Brant Brown scored the winning runs for the Cubs.
Both teams scored in both halves of the first three innings. In the top of the first, center fielder Brian McRae led off with a single and then stole second when Ashby tried to pick him off and then compounded the mistake with a throwing error sending McRae to third. Right fielder Sammy Sosa hit a sacrifice fly to score McRae. In the bottom of the first, right fielder Tony Gwynn had a one-out single, stole second and went to third on a throwing error by Cubs catcher Scott Servais. McRae then dropped third baseman Ken Caminiti's fly ball for an error to make it 1-1.
Cubs third baseman Leo Gomez led off the second with a walk and Servais followed with a single to move Gomez to second. Second baseman Bret Barberie hit into a force play, putting runners at first and third. Shortstop Jose Hernandez singled to score Gomez and one batter later, McRae singled to score Barberie to make it 3-1 Cubs. The Padres scored in the bottom of the second on a solo home run by catcher Brian Johnson.
In the third, Sosa homered to lead off the inning. In the bottom half of the inning, left fielder Rickey Henderson led off with a single. Gwynn doubled to put Henderson at third. Center fielder Steve Finley followed with a double of his own to score two runs, but Finley was out trying to stretch his hit into a triple.
The Cubs threatened in the tenth against reliever Doug Bochtler. Gomez led off with a single and Terry Shumpert ran for him. Servais walked and Barberie sacrificed to move the runners up. Hernandez was given an intentional walk. Doug Glanville pinch hit for Bullinger and struck out and McRae flied out to left to end the threat.
In the 12th, the Cubs broke through. Servais led off with a single off of Padres reliever Shawn Bergman and moved to second on a Barberie sacrifice (his third of the night). Hernandez struck out. Ryne Sandberg came up to pinch hit for reliever Terry Adams and singled to center to score Servais. Turk Wendell, the Cubs closer, came in to pinch run for Sandberg, but stayed at first as McRae flied out to end the inning. Wendell got the first two outs in the bottom of the 12th, but catcher John Flaherty, who entered the game in a double switch in the 10th and had just joined the Padres along with Chris Gomez from Detroit on June 18 (in exchange for Brad Ausmus and Andujar Cedeno), hit his first home run with the Padres to tie the game.
The teams soldiered on. In the 15th, McRae walked and Brown and Sosa singled to load the bases. Bochy brought in his seventh pitcher, Willie Blair. Left fielder Luis Gonzalez hit a sacrifice fly to left to score McRae and send Brown to third. With Shumpert up, Riggelman called for a squeeze, but Shumpert missed the pitch and Brown was out at the plate. Shumpert managed to get a walk and Servais was hit by a pitch, but Barberie flied out.
But the Padres weren't done. Right fielder Archi Cianfrocco (who had replaced Gwynn on a double switch earlier) led off with a double against Chicago reliever Rodney Myers. Flaherty grounded out and Cianfrocco moved up to third. Myers threw a wild pitch and Cianfrocco scored to tie the game.
And on to the 16th! Hernandez led off with a double. Myers tried to bunt him over, but struck out. McRae then hit a grounder to Padres rookie first baseman Jason Thompson that he couldn't handle and on the error, Hernandez scored and McRae went to second. Brown followed with a homer to make it 9-6. In the bottom of the 16th, Finley got a leadoff walk, but the Padres couldn't score him and, with no position players left on the bench, Bochy had to have pitcher Fernando Valenzuela pinch hit for Blair, and Valenzuela struck out to end the game.
The Padres would be able to right their ship thanks in part to Flaherty, who had a 27-game hitting streak after arriving in San Diego. After a 9-19 June, the Padres went 48-32 in the final three months and overtook the Dodgers for the NL West title with three wins in Los Angeles in the final three games of the season. The Padres lost to the Cardinals in three straight in the Division Series. Ken Caminiti would win the NL MVP with a 40 home run, 130 RBI season (whether or not you think that was fairly earned is another matter). Gwynn led the NL in batting average at .353. The Padres were 91-71 overall.
The Cubs finished in fourth place in the NL Central at 76-86. Sosa hit 40 home runs and drove in 100. Sandberg hit 25 home runs in his first season back after a one-year retirement. While the Cubs had a decent bullpen and one pretty good starter in Steve Trachsel, the rest of the rotation was iffy with guys like Jaime Navarro, Frank Castillo, Bullinger, Amaury Telemaco, and Kevin Foster all taking turns.
Sources: San Diego Union-Tribune, Retrosheet, Baseball-Reference.com