1969: Padres Bust Out Bats Late, Beat Astros

July 5, 1969, San Diego: Padres 9, Astros 8 (box score)

The 1969 Padres scored 11 runs in extra innings all season. More than half (6) of them came in this game.

The Astros jumped out to a quick lead against Clay Kirby. After Curt Blefary led off the contest with a single to right, Joe Morgan homered to put Houston up, 2-0.

The Padres cut into the lead in the third. With nobody on and two out, John Sipin singled off Denny Lemaster. Ollie Brown followed with a walk, and Nate Colbert then singled home Sipin to make the score 2-1.

Two innings later, Houston extended its lead on an RBI single by Jimmy Wynn that plated Blefary, who had led off the frame with a double. The Padres struck back in the bottom half of the fifth, with Sipin again heading the charge.

After Sipin led off with a double, Brown grounded to second and Colbert flied to left. Four straight two-out singles off the bats of Al Ferrara, Ed Spiezio, Chris Cannizzaro, and Cito Gaston tied the score, 3-3, and knocked Lemaster from the game.

Kirby, meanwhile, kept the Astros under wraps until the top of the 10th, when Wynn knocked a leadoff homer to give his team a 4-3 lead. After issuing a walk to Norm Miller, Kirby yielded to Billy McCool, who worked his way into a little more trouble before escaping without further damage.

With right-hander Fred Gladding now on the mound for Houston, the Padres mounted a rally of their own. Cannizzaro led off with a single to left and then was lifted for pinch-runner Sonny Ruberto. Gaston sacrificed Ruberto to second. After Larry Stahl popped to short for the second out, light-hitting (.160/.213/.219) Tommy Dean was due up. Manager Preston Gomez sent Van Kelly to bat instead, and Kelly responded with a single to center that brought home the tying run.

The Padres had a great opportunity to win the game in the 11th. With the bases loaded and no out, though, Spiezio fanned and Ruberto lined into an inning-ending double play.

The 12th inning was another matter altogether and one that defies all logic. Jack Baldschun, who had retired the side in order in the 11th, allowed a leadoff single to Morgan. Wynn then hit into a fielders choice, replacing Morgan at first. After a stolen base by Wynn, Miller walked, bringing up Johnny Edwards, who doubled to left, scoring Wynn and Miller.

Exit Baldschun, enter Frank Reberger. A wild pitch, groundout, walk, and triple later, the Astros had extended their lead to 8-4. Pitcher Gladding, batting for himself, finally struck out to end the inning.

Game over? Not quite. After Gaston fanned to lead off the home half of the 12th, the Padres got to work. Roberto Pena singled to right and Kelly followed with a double. Ivan Murrell, batting for light-hitting (.200/.268/.246) Jose Arcia, beat out a grounder to shortstop for a single that scored Pena and cut the defecit to three runs. Brown followed with a single back through the middle that brought home Kelly.

Exit Gladding, enter rookie left-hander Skip Guinn. With Colbert at the plate, Guinn unleashed a wild pitch that scored Murrell and pulled the Padres to within 8-7. Colbert then singled to left, advancing Brown to third. Ferrara followed with yet another single, scoring Brown and tying the game.

With the pitchers’ spot due up, Gomez went to his bench one more time. Left-handed hitting Walt Hriniak, owner of 12 big-league hits, all singles, stepped up to bat. He whacked his 13th career single to left, scoring Colbert to cap a most improbable victory for San Diego. The Padres had collected six straight hits and overcome a four-run defecit in the 12th inning to stun the Astros in front of — would you believe — a mere 2309 fans at San Diego Stadium.

Trivia: The Padres notched 21 hits in this game. Their previous high-water mark had been 14, in the second game of a doubleheader at home against Cincinnati on April 27. They would match the 21 hits on May 23, 1970, at San Francisco, but not exceed it until a 24-hit outburst against the Giants nearly 12 years later, on April 19, 1982. (See also the list of all games in which the Padres have collected 15+ hits.)

Elsewhere in the world: Kenyan politician Tom Mboya was assassinated in Nairobi.

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