CHICAGO (AP) -- Instead of tying Rollie Fingers, Trevor Hoffman
allowed Chicago to tie the game and win it -- all on one pitch.
Alex Gonzalez hit a two-run, two-out double off Hoffman in the
ninth inning Thursday, rallying the Chicago Cubs over the San Diego
Padres 8-7. Hoffman (1-3) was one out from matching Fingers for sixth on the
career saves list at 341, but instead blew a save for only the
second time in 27 chances this season. "When you play the San Diego Padres, it is an eight-inning
game, and if you are not ahead, you generally lose,'' Cubs interim
manager Bruce Kimm said. Chicago, which had trailed 7-3, had been just 1-53 when behind
after eight innings. With the Padres ahead 7-6, Sammy Sosa singled leading off the
ninth, Roosevelt Brown grounded into a fielder's choice and Fred
McGriff, pinch hitting for Tom Gordon (1-1), singled. With runners on first and second, Corey Patterson lined out.
Gonzalez fell behind 0-2 in the count, then Gonzalez doubled to
deep right-center. Pinch-runner Delino DeShields scored the winning
run with a headfirst slide, easily beating the throw. "Odds were against me,'' Gonzalez said. Chicago won in its final at-bat for the sixth time. Two of them
came on game-ending homers by Gonzalez. "I made a pretty bad pitch in an 0-2 situation,'' Hoffman said. San Diego had been 38-1 when taking a lead into the ninth.
Hoffman's only other blown save this year was at San Francisco on
June 26. Gordon got his first victory since May 6, 2001, against Los
Angeles. "It's been tough the last couple of games,'' Gordon said. "I
think today was a great game because we were able to fight back.
This was a blessing.'' After giving up two home runs in the 11th inning Wednesday in a
8-6 loss to the Padres, Kyle Farnsworth couldn't protect a 3-2 lead
in the eighth as San Diego rallied for five runs. Farnsworth gave
up four runs and four hits in one-third of an inning. Farnsworth relieved Jon Lieber, and Ramon Vazquez led off with a
triple. Mark Kotsay's singled tied it, Phil Nevin singled with one
out and Ron Gant hit a two-run double. Gene Kingsdale's two-run
homer off Gordon put San Diego ahead 7-3. Mark Bellhorn hit a three-run homer off Jeremy Fikac in the
eighth as Chicago closed within a run and making it save situation
for Hoffman. "I really didn't want to use Hoffman today,'' Padres manager
Bruce Bochy said. Lieber, winless in seven starts since June 21, gave up
consecutive singles to Vazquez and Kotsay at the start of the game,
then retired 17 consecutive batters before Kotsay singled in the
sixth. Lieber allowed two runs and five hits in seven innings,
struck out six and walked none. "Lieber is what championship teams are made of,'' Kimm said.
"He goes out and gives everything he has.'' Padres starter Jake Peavy gave up two runs and eight hits in six
innings. Ryan Klesko hit a sacrifice fly in the first, but Chicago took a
2-1 lead in the third when Lieber doubled, Bill Mueller tripled and
Sosa hit a sacrifice fly. Tom Lampkin tied it with an RBI grounder in the seventh as
Gonzalez threw high to first, failing to complete what would have
been an inning-ending double play. Brown's hit a sacrifice fly off Tom Davey that put Chicago ahead
3-2 in the seventh after Bobby M. Jones -- acquired Wednesday from
the New York Mets -- walked Bellhorn leading off.
McGriff was scratched from the lineup due to a bruise by
his left ribcage, where he was hit by a pitch Wednesday. ...
Gametime temperature was 91 degrees with a heat index of 99. ...
Joe Girardi was activated from the disabled list before the game.