"This definitely was a big win," said Brian Giles, who reached base three times and scored twice, including the game-winning run. "We know we have to take care of business at home if we're going to be in the division [race]."
The Padres are 4-11 at home, which sure beats 3-12.
"It's gotta start somewhere," Mike Cameron said. "This was big. We've been beat up out here pretty bad. We've got to make this our domain."
It was Bellhorn, an all-purpose backup, who delivered the decisive blow, drawing on big-game experience culled while helping drive Boston's self-proclaimed "Idiots" to their improbable World Series championship in 2004.
But contributions came from a collection of Padres during the five-run ninth and again in the 10th, when Giles and Mike Piazza coaxed walks against left-hander Tim Hamulack (0-2) before Bellhorn's smash past third sent the majority of 38,116 fans home happy.
The Dodgers have a vocal following at PETCO Park; their followers had made noise for two nights. A sweep seemed imminent when Lance Carter took the mound in the ninth, but the right-hander acquired from Tampa Bay yielded singles to Cameron and Giles. When Piazza walked, manager Grady Little summoned closer Danys Baez, another Tampa Bay import.
With eight saves in nine chances as Eric Gagne's replacement, Baez had to feel confident that he'd restore order. But Bellhorn singled sharply to right, delivering the first run, and Khalil Greene took a 3-2 fastball off the plate for a run-scoring walk.
Eric Young batted for Trevor Hoffman and walked, forcing home the third run. Rookie Josh Barfield slammed a 385-foot out to center, cashing in the fourth run.
With Geoff Blum at the plate, Young stole second, taking away the chance for a game-ending double play. Blum launched a 3-2 pitch to right for a sacrifice fly, and the Padres were even. Hamulack replaced Baez and struck out Doug Mirabelli, batting for Dave Roberts.
Shut down for eight innings by Lowe and Franquelis Osoria, the Friars finally had a pulse. They were alive -- kicking.
Winning pitcher Scott Linebrink (2-2) set down the Dodgers in order in the 10th, making it 16 outs in succession by the bullpen. Dewon Brazelton (two scoreless innings) and Scott Cassidy (one scoreless inning) preceded Hoffman, who was seemingly just getting in work with his scoreless ninth.
Chan Ho Park had been victimized by two-out thunder, giving up four two-out runs in the fifth after the Dodgers had gone ahead with a two-out, RBI single by Jason Repko in the second. It was Nomar Garciaparra driving a two-run double to right-center and Bill Mueller following with a homer into the right-field corner, providing starter Derek Lowe with a 5-0 cushion in the fifth.
The Padres bullpen did not allow a hit or walk in five innings after Park's exit.
"Our pitching's been great," Barfield said later, "and our defense has been good, too. It's just a matter of swinging the bats the way we're capable."
Greene, who made the play of the day with a spectacular diving stab to rob Jeff Kent in the fifth, felt that this comeback could serve as a springboard -- much like the 5-4 win in 15 innings on April 29, 2005, that triggered a 24-6 run.
Playing first base for the first time this season, giving Adrian Gonzalez his first day off, Bellhorn seized the moment in the 10th with his third hit. It felt like '04 all over again, when he delivered 82 RBIs in 138 regular-season games -- and eight more in the final 11 games of the postseason, against the Yankees and Cardinals, with three homers.
"For some reason, in those situations, I've had some success," Bellhorn said. "No matter what I've done in the game, my confidence is so much higher in those situations. You're so focused on the situation, the magnitude of it."
"He has a reputation of getting big hits in the big ballgames," Mirabelli, Bellhorn's old Boston teammate, said. "He's a force in the middle of the lineup. He's a guy who brings that bat every day."
Bellhorn's bat figures to keep his name on the lineup card somewhere, at any of the four infield positions.
"He might be in right field [on Monday night]," Giles cracked.
No, that won't happen. But Giles, who yields his place to no man, likes the authority that Bellhorn brings from both sides of the plate.
"He's a good player, a guy trying to make the most of his opportunities," Giles said. "He's sparked our offense more than once.
"We had some good at-bats, some quality at-bats. We weren't all trying to hit home runs; we were trying to get on base. It feels good.
"We can enjoy this tonight, but we've got to go to San Francisco and play a team that's playing extremely well. We've got to dig ourselves out of the hole we're in."