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Gwynn’s pursuit of 3,000 hits stung by Leyritz’s comments

The Associated Press

Tony Gwynn should have been happy after moving within six hits of 3,000 and helping the San Diego Padres snap a nine-game losing streak.

Monday, August 02, 1999

Tony Gwynn should have been happy after moving within six hits of 3,000 and helping the San Diego Padres snap a nine-game losing streak. He was clearly upset, though.

Gwynn homered, singled and doubled as the Padres beat the Houston Astros 10-3 Sunday in San Diego.

But his pursuit of the 3,000-hit milestone wasn’t the only topic of conversation after the game. Gwynn also was asked about a story in Sunday’s San Diego Union-Tribune in which he was criticized by former teammate Jim Leyritz for not being a team player.

Gwynn, normally very talkative with the media, refused to comment on the story but was obviously angry about it.

While Leyritz may find fault with Gwynn, Padres manager Bruce Bochy praised the eight-time NL batting champion.

”Today he just had great at-bats,” Bochy said. ”That’s what this club needs. It needs Tony to swing the bat like he did today and be in the middle of rallies.”

Leyritz, traded from San Diego to the New York Yankees on Saturday, told the paper that Gwynn lacked the ”intangibles” of a team player. Two unidentified Padres also were quoted as saying there was too much focus on Gwynn’s countdown to 3,000.

However, Padres fans gave Gwynn a standing ovation in the eighth inning when he was lifted for a pinch-runner after doubling for his 2,994th career hit. Gwynn is tied on the hits list with Tampa Bay’s Wade Boggs, who had two against Oakland on Sunday.

After going hitless in the first two games of the series, Gwynn went 3-for-5 in his first three-hit game since April 29.

”Today I was much better,” Gwynn said. ”When you’re in the spot I’m in, results are what people are looking for. They don’t want to hear you’re swinging good and going oh-fer, they want to see some hits.”

Padres outfielder Reggie Sanders said he doesn’t think the newspaper story will affect Gwynn’s pursuit of 3,000 hits.

”Tony’s a professional and I’m quite sure he’s been through things like this before,” Sanders said.

The Padres hit three homers off Jose Lima (14-6) and chased him after 4 1-3 innings, his shortest outing of the year. Phil Nevin and Eric Owens also homered for San Diego.

San Diego avoided a season sweep by the Astros, who had beaten the Padres eight straight times this year.

Braves 12, Phillies 4

At Atlanta, Chipper Jones homered twice and Gerald Williams hit a grand slam as the Braves remained a half-game ahead of the New York Mets in the NL East.

Greg Maddux (12-6) allowed four runs, four hits and one walk in the first inning before settling down and giving up just two hits in his final six innings.

Jones, who batted .413 (33-for-80) with 11 homers and 17 RBIs in July, hit a two-run homer in the first and a solo shot in the fourth. He has 27 homers this season, including three multihomer games.

Pirates 2, Marlins 1

At Pittsburgh, Francisco Cordova pitched a five-hitter and tied his career high with 10 strikeouts.

Cordova (6-5) was working on his fifth career shutout until Chris Clapinski tripled to start the eighth and scored on Luis Castillo’s two-out infield single.

Expos 10, Brewers 4

Rondell White hit a three-run homer and scored twice during Montreal’s nine-run fourth inning as the Expos beat the bumbling Brewers in Milwaukee.

All nine Montreal runs in the fourth were unearned as Milwaukee put on a comical display of fielding and throwing. The Brewers made five errors in the game, including three in the fourth.

Rockies 5 Cardinals 4

Mark McGwire hit his 497th career homer and tied Sammy Sosa for the major league lead with 40 this season, but the Cardinals still lost at home.

Dante Bichette and Vinny Castilla each had two hits and two RBIs for the Rockies. McGwire hit a three-run shot in the fifth, his 13th homer in his last 17 games.

Mets 5, Cubs 4, 13 innings

Pat Mahomes singled in the winning run in the 13th inning and protected the last of three late leads for the Mets, who got a brilliant pitching performance from Al Leiter at Wrigley Field.

Leiter struck out a career-high 15 in seven innings. He gave up two runs on seven hits but the Mets blew one-run leads in the ninth and 10th, thanks in large part to Armando Benitez.

Henry Rodriguez hit Benitez’s first pitch of the ninth into the center-field bleachers for his 19th homer, tying it at 3. After Edgardo Alfonzo hit a sacrifice fly to give New York a 4-3 lead in the 10th, Benitez walked the first two batters in the bottom half. One out and two pitchers later, John Olerud booted Rodriguez’s bases-loaded grounder and Manny Alexander scored to tie it at 4.

Dodgers 4, Diamondbacks 2

At Los Angeles, Todd Hundley hit a three-run homer in the sixth inning as the Dodgers ended Arizona’s five-game winning streak.

The victory was only Los Angeles’ third in its last 13 games.

Hundley’s 16th home run came after Andy Benes (6-10) gave up consecutive singles to Devon White and Raul Mondesi to open the sixth.