Williams weaves series win for Padres
Concern for Mets outfielders overrides joy of victory
SAN DIEGO -- On what was to be a harrowing day for the Mets after a violent collision between outfielders Mike Cameron and Carlos Beltran, the Padres escaped with a 2-1 victory on Thursday before 35,148 at PETCO Park to take the series, two games to one.The condition of Cameron and Beltran was the foremost topic of conversation in the Padres' clubhouse -- not the superb pitching of Woody Williams, the clutch hitting of Joe Randa, Trevor Hoffman's 30th save in a season for the 10th time or the club's seventh win in nine games. Cameron suffered a broken nose, multiple fractures of both cheekbones and a concussion. He will remain hospitalized overnight for observation. Beltran had a sore left shoulder and a cut on the left side of his face, and also was taken to a hospital for a CT Scan. "They're both good people and play the game hard," said Randa, whose two-out RBI single in the seventh inning was the difference in Williams outdueling Tom Glavine. "You don't see two guys diving like that too often. Everyone on our side was as concerned as on their side. "You play the game hard, but you never want to see anyone get hurt. It's like anything else in society. We all play the game together. It does take something away [from winning] when something like that happens." Cameron, flying over from right, and Beltran ran head-on into each other in right-center field pursuing a sinking fly ball by pinch-hitter David Ross that fell for a triple after shortstop Chris Woodward retrieved it. Damian Jackson, running for Ross, scored on Randa's third hit, a single to center, after Cameron was carried off the field on a stretcher and Beltran left on his own power. Padres trainer Todd Hutcheson rushed to assist the Mets' training staff on the scene and was heartened to see both players conscious, talking and moving. He said a collision of that magnitude could have produced much worse results. "Hats off to those guys for giving such a tremendous effort for Tom Glavine," Jackson said. "People will look at it as one of the top 10 ugly incidents. Why not one of the top 10 great efforts? "To me, you had two center fielders going after a ball with everything they had, and neither one was letting up or backing off. Cameron [playing right] has been a center fielder all his life and still plays like one, going after everything. "Most right fielders will veer off or give way to the center fielder on a play like that, but he kept coming. It's the way he's always played. As a player, you have to respect that." Jackson was involved in a violent collision with Red Sox center fielder Johnny Damon in the 2003 American League playoffs. Damon took the brunt of that hit when they rammed into each other in shallow center. "Those things happen when you play the game hard," Jackson said. "Baseball takes a beating from people, saying it's not physical, guys are dogging it. But we're not protected, and there are times when it gets dangerous. This was one of those times." Williams, registering his first win since July 7 with seven strong innings, struck out eight while walking one and called his performance "encouraging." Hoffman was more exuberant, labeling it: "Awesome. Everybody collectively in the rotation is going out and grinding. Woody was in a difficult pitchers' duel today and did a nice job." The only Mets run came on a double by Cliff Floyd that plated Beltran, who'd walked and stolen second, in the fourth inning. After giving up 23 runs in 21 2/3 innings in his previous four starts, Williams was "on top of his game," manager Bruce Bochy said. Against Glavine, who tied his career high with three of the six hits against Williams, the Padres managed a fourth-inning run on singles by Brian Giles, Xavier Nady and Khalil Greene before the go-ahead run in the seventh. Backup catcher Ross, with his second successful pinch-hit in two days, said he'd never seen a collision to compare with the one involving Beltran and Cameron. "You see hard hits on catchers, but nothing like that," Ross said. "It's rough. It seems like we beat up on their lineup. Their catcher [Ramon Castro] got some foul tips. Cliff Floyd took one off the knee. They're banged up. I just hope those guys are all right." Hitting against Glavine, a potential Hall of Famer, Ross said he just happened to put the ball in a dangerous area of the field. "It's not like I smoked the ball," he said. "It just kind of fell in there. I saw them both dive for the ball and collide. I never saw the ball and didn't see them get up, so I kept running. I was just worrying about the ball and trying to get to third. That was one of the nastiest things I've seen in baseball." After Akinori Otsuka got through the eighth, retiring David Wright on a double play grounder after walking Jose Reyes and hitting Floyd with a 91 mph fastball on the inside of the left kneecap, Hoffman sailed through the ninth in order for his 30th save in 32 tries. Hoffman is one save away from John Franco in second place on the all-time list at 424 saves. Lee Smith recorded 478 saves. "That's what every ballplayer is trying to do, whether he's a closer or starting ballplayer -- strive for consistency," Hoffman said. "For a closer, a lot of things have to fall into place, the way Woody fought, great defensive plays all over. "To have that many opportunities over the years, a lot of things have to fall into place." On this day, Hoffman and his Padres were happy to win, but the big relief came with the early reports that neither Beltran nor Cameron was injured more seriously in their yard.
Lyle Spencer is a contributor to MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.