Tony Gwynn seemed a little more motivated than usual.
Gwynn homered, singled and doubled to move within six hits of 3,000 and the San Diego Padres beat Houston 10-3 Sunday to snap their nine-game losing streak.
In addition to the 3,000-hit milestone, Gwynn may have been inspired by a critical story in Sunday's San Diego Union-Tribune.
Jim Leyritz, who was 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.
After the game, Gwynn initially refused to speak with reporters. He eventually talked to a few beat writers, and although he was clearly angry about the story, he wouldn't comment on it.
While some of his teammates may not be happy 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."
Gwynn received a standing ovation when he was lifted for pinch-runner Damian Jackson after doubling leading off the eighth for his 2,994th career hit. Gwynn is tied for career hits 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."
Gwynn, who has been on the disabled list twice this season because of a left calf injury, said batting coach Merv Rettenmund told him to put more weight on his back leg.
"I was out in front until today. Today I stayed back and hit some offspeed pitches," Gwynn said.
Padres outfielder Reggie Sanders doesn't think Gwynn's pursuit of 3,000 hits has been a distraction to the Padres, who went from two games out of first in the NL West to nine games back during the losing streak.
"Tony's a professional and I'm quite sure he's been through things like this before," Sanders said of the critical comments from his teammates. "Although it may hurt because it's coming from a person that's in this clubhouse, I see Tony as one of those guys that it might bother him but he'll let it go."
Sn Diego fans most likely won't get to Gwynn get his milestone hit because the Padres open a three-city, 11-game trip Monday in St. Louis.
The Padres avoided a season sweep by the Astros, who had smothered them with their pitching in winning eight straight games this year. Until Sunday, the last time the Padres beat the Astros was Oct. 4 in the clinching Game 4 of the first round of the playoffs.
But 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, who went 3-for-4, and Eric Owens also homered for San Diego while Wally Joyner drove in three runs on two hits.
Left-hander Sterling Hitchcock, the last Padres pitcher to beat the Astros, held Houston hitless until Tim Bogar homered leading off the sixth. Hitchcock (10-8) allowed three hits and two runs in six innings.
Gwynn hit a two-run homer off Lima in the third inning and singled during a five-run rally in the fifth.
Nevin homered leading off the second, his 13th, and Owens hit a solo shot with one out in the fifth to start a five-run rally that gave the Padres an 8-0 lead. Joyner and rookie Ben Davis hit two-run singles, with Joyner's hit chasing Lima.
"There are no excuses. I stunk today," said Lima, who left too many pitches up. "I think they saved all their hits for today. I am glad that I got my bad start out of the way."
Lima allowed nine hits and a season-high eight earned runs.
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