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SAN DIEGO--Kevin McReynolds hit a three-run homer and Garry Templeton cracked a two-run double as the San Diego Padres scored a 7-1 victory over the Chicago Cubs yesterday and stayed alive in the National League Championship Series.
The Cubs, now with a two games-to-one lead in the best-of-five series, still need one victory to advance to their first World Series since 1945.
No team has ever won an NLCS after losing the first two games.
Trailing 1-0, Templeton's double ignited a three-run fifth inning against Cubs right-hander Dennis Eckersley. The Padres finally had found a chink in the Cuba pitching armor, which had held San Diego to only 11 hits and two runs in the two previous playoff games, which Chicago had won at home 13-0 and 4-2.
And, McReynold's homer, his first since Sept. 3, capped a four-run sixth inning that put the game away.
This time, it was San Diego's turn to get the pitching. The traveled veteran Ed Whitson gave up just five Cubs hits, including a leadoff double to Keith Moreland that led to a Chicago run in the second inning. The right-hander Whitson, 14-8 in his best major league season, struck out six and walked two before being replaced by Rich Gossage, who pitched the ninth.
Game Four of the series will be played in San Diego tomorrow night with Game Five set for Sunday. The Padres are expected to start Tim Lollar while the Cubs probably will go with Scott Sanderson.
Eckersley, 10-8 during the season, lasted only 5 1-3 innings for the Cubs and gave up nine hits, two more than the Cubs starting pitchers combined to allow in Games One and Two.
Perhaps it was the change in venue, as much as Templeton's spark, that enlivened the Padres, winners of the NL West this season. Returning home after suffering in the unfriendly confines of Wrigley Field, the Padres played before the largest crowd ever at Jack Murphy Stadium, 58,346. The previous record was 52,134 set on July 4 this year against the Cubs.
As the starting lineups were announced, Templeton led the crowd in cheers, waving his hat and seeming to express the Padres frustrations as he called for fan support for this first division winner for San Diego.
Terry Kennedy, previously hitless in the playoffs, started the winning fifth-inning rally with a single. McReynolds, also hitless, singled, and Kennedy went to second. One out later. Templeton doubled to the wall in left-center, and both runners scored easily.
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