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Greene's homer caps Friars' comeback

Greene's homer caps Friars' comeback

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SAN DIEGO -- The Padres proved their resilience once again in the face of defeat.

They could have "rolled over," as Padres starter Chris Young said, when San Diego was going into the bottom of the ninth with the Giants still ahead by two runs. But they fought back, proving they were not out of this game. Not in September with less then three weeks to go. Not with a 1 1/2-game lead in the National League Wild Card race and not at home, in PETCO Park, after being on the road for nine games.

On Friday night, the Padres gutted it out with a come-from-behind rally. And in dramatic fashion, Khalil Greene put an end to the game with his walk-off homer in the bottom of the 10th inning to give the Padres the win, 5-4, over the Giants in the series opener.

Trailing, 4-2, Scott Hairston led off the ninth inning with a shot over the left-field wall. Then pinch-runner Brady Clark scored the tying run off a double by Geoff Blum.

Oh, that Geoff Blum.

He came in in the seventh as a pinch-hitter and then remained in the game at second, replacing Marcus Giles. He batted again and went a perfect 2-for-2 to give the Padres a surge of life. San Diego was able to tie it in the ninth and take the game to extra innings. Friday's game marked the fifth time the Padres have gone into extras with the Giants this season. The Padres, though, had the upper hand as they held a 4-1 record in those contests.

Still, it was anybody's game.

"With the heart and character of this team, to come back from a game [like] tonight, where we could have easily rolled over, but there's no quit in this team and that's what makes it fun," Young said.

The Giants were unable to score in the top of the 10th with reliever Trevor Hoffman on the mound. So it was the home team's turn, and Greene ended it with his homer into the left-field stands.

"Sure, I'm happy it turned out like it did and we won the game and we were able to come back and score some runs in the end," Greene said. "I think a win's a win. But to be able to come back and win it the way we did I think is nice. Especially at this point in time, when the games are starting to wind down and we don't have that many left and it's still extremely close.

"We need to get wins and try to stay in it and maintain our lead in the Wild Card and make up ground if possible in the division."

The game started with the Giants taking an early 2-0 lead in the second inning. Kevin Frandsen's sacrifice fly scored Barry Bonds and then Giants starter Barry Zito hit an RBI single to left field off Young.

Young was another bright spot in a victorious night at PETCO Park. He tossed seven innings -- something he has not done since July 19 vs. Philadelphia -- and showed marked improvement since being sidelined by a strained left oblique in July.

Young received a no-decision after allowing three runs on six hits. But the fact that he did not feel any pain, had his confidence back and threw his fastball into the 90s was significant.

"I just had a feeling about Chris' performance tonight," manager Bud Black said. "I think he is going to rise to the occasion here in the next couple of weeks. I thought he got stronger as the game went on.

"I thought his velocity increased as the game went on. I think we felt more comfortable with his mechanics and I think that showed from the third inning on. Overall, I saw the consistency of the at-bat to at-bat with good pitches, and I saw a lot of awkward swings from the Giants."

Young agreed: "Physically, I felt good, and stuff-wise, I was good. I was able to let go. Command was much better tonight. The ball had a lot of life to it.

"They hit a couple pitches and scored some runs. It was a good start, gave the team a chance to win, and we were able to pull it out, and that's the most important part."

Zito yielded two runs on four hits over six innings of work. Hoffman (4-4) picked up the win while the Giants' Dan Giese (0-1) suffered the loss.

The Padres started their longest homestand of the season, 10 games, with a win and still lead in the Wild Card standings.

Rookie Kevin Kouzmanoff drilled a two-run home run in the fourth inning. He finished the night by going 2-for-4 with the homer, his 17th, and double. He has now hit safely in 18 of his last 21 games and ranks second all-time among Padres rookies with his 17 homers, according to the Elias Sports Bureau.

Friday's win put the Padres three games behind Arizona in the National League West. They maintained their hold on the Wild Card, but both the Dodgers and Phillies are 1 1/2 games behind them.

"I'm rooting for the Padres," Black said. "Our challenge is to play good baseball and if we do, we'll end up getting where we want to be.

"It's a great comeback win, no doubt. I think we've shown the resiliency all year."

Elizabeth M. Botello is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

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