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Retro Recap: Mark Grant earns the win as Luis Salazar comes through twice in the clutch

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It took the 2016 Padres a full season to win 68 games; the 1989 edition of the club got there with over a month to spare. One man was there for both seasons; beloved Padres television broadcaster Mark Grant was at the peak of his playing career at the time and featured prominently in that sixty-eighth victory.

The Padres came into the August 29 home game against the Expos riding a five-game winning streak that had pulled them from two games below .500 and 10 games behind the division leader to a 67-64 record, six games behind the Giants. The game proved to be quite a pitchers' duel, despite the initial participants being reliever Greg Harris, making a spot start for the Friars, and Pasqual Perez, Montreal's past-his-prime fourth starter.

The first three innings went by with nary a single hit for either side; walks to the Padres' Chris James and the Expos' Perez and Nelson Santovenia accounted for the only baserunners. San Diego finally broke up the double-no-hitter in the bottom of the fourth with a one-out single between the third baseman and shortstop by, of course, Tony Gwynn. He stole second after an unproductive fly out by Jack Clark, but was stranded after a walk to James and a fly ball to left by Marvell Wynne.

The Expos finally got in the hit column in the top of the fifth inning. After a one-out walk to Santovenia, Spike Owen singled to put runners on the corners. Harris responded by striking out Perez and leadoff batter Dave Martinez to keep the scoreless tie intact. Montreal threatened again in the sixth with back-to-back two-out singles from a pair of Tims, Raines and Wallach, but Harris once again got out of the inning by way of strikeout.

In the seventh inning Montreal finally became the first to put up something other than a zero in the line score. Santovenia led off with a single, took second on a balk, moved to third on a single by Perez after a Spike Owen popup, then came home on a groundout by Martinez. They held this lead for less time than it takes to go get a hot dog sandwich and get back to your seat.

Perez went back to the mound for the bottom of the seventh inning, but got the hook from manager Buck Rodgers after walking Clark and allowing a single to James. Zane Smith came in and got the first out on a bunt by Wynne which moved the runners to second and third. He then intentionally walked Benito Santiago to set up the double play. With Smith's work for the day done, Tim Burke was brought in to face third baseman Mike Pagliarulo, but Padres skipper Jack McKeon countered by sending Luis Salazar to the plate. Salazar, by then in his third stint with the team, grounded into a fielder's choice but made it to first safely to allow Clark to score. With runners on the corners and two outs, Tim Flannery was called on to hit in the pitcher Harris' spot, but grounded into a force to end the frame.

Salazar stayed in the game at third base, and McKeon brought in Mark Grant to take Harris' spot on the hill. He allowed just a single, Tim Wallach's second of the game, and came back out for the ninth inning after the Padres wasted Gwynn's second hit and second steal of the game. Grant was even better in his second frame, sending Owen, pinch-hitter Jim Dwyer, and Martinez back to the bench in order. The stage was set for heroics.

Rich Thompson was sent to the mound tasked with sending the game to extras, and was greeted by a single from Wynne, who then moved over 90 feet on a bunt by Santiago. Luis Salazar then came to the plate for his second at-bat of the game and worked a 2-0 count before Thompson's third pitch to him got away from catcher Mike Fitzgerald for a passed ball, allowing Wynne to take third base. Two pitches later, Salazar singled past the shortstop Owen to send Wynne home and their teammates pouring out of the dugout.

With that win, the Padres extended their streak to six victories. They would lose the next day, but promptly win six more in a row. They had the best record in all of baseball, 21-9, after this game, but it was still not enough to get past the eventual National League champion Giants for the division crown. They did, however, finish with by far the second-most wins in their history, and ended the year 16 games over .500 after being six games below .500 as late as July 7.

Grant improved his record to 6-2 while lowering his ERA to 2.71. By season's end he would have a career-high eight wins against just those two losses. While his ERA rose to 3.33, it still marked a personal best, as did his 1.178 WHIP.

Game events and individual statistics are all via Baseball Reference

Box score / 1989 team page