Padres After Redemption

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NEW YORK: With flu in their throats and butter on their fingers, the Padres are headed home to Qualcomm Stadium to try to turn this 1998 October Classic into something competitive. First up as savior: pitcher Sterling Hitchcock, who will get the ball Tuesday night against the Yankees' David Cone. Hitchcock has been brilliant in the postseason, but then again, so had the rest of his teammates -- until now. And as a Yankee castoff, Hitchcock doesn't exactly inspire fear.

Perhaps he can help out with the hitting. The NL venue for Games 3, 4 and 5 means pitchers have to take their own at bats -- no designated hitters -- and that robs the potent Yankee lineup of some lumber. It's also warmer, but that may help Cone as much as Hitchcock -- a rain-soaked Cone fell apart against the Indians, and Yankees manager Joe Torre thinks the 36-year-old will benefit from some sunshine. But there's added pressure on the Padres to keep this thing competitive with a win Tuesday: on November 3, the city of San Diego will vote on whether to chip in for a new stadium for the Pods. Maybe they'll call it The House That Hitchcock Built.

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