SAN FRANCISCO -- Of course the ball found Nick Hundley. In a one-run game, in the ninth inning, with a few thousand boisterous fans directly behind him screaming at him to drop the ball and extend the game a little longer. "That's just how the game works," Hundley said. "Some new guy comes in or a guy switches positions. The ball finds you." As strange as it sounds, Hundley -- moved from catcher to left field in a pinch Tuesday -- put the wraps on the Padres' 4-3 victory over the Giants in front of a crowd of 34,524 at AT&T Park, securing at least a .500 road trip against the Dodgers and Giants.
The victory also allowed the Padres (62-78) to climb into sole possession of fourth place -- leapfrogging, if you will -- for the first time since July 7 ahead of the Arizona Diamondbacks. "We're pesky," Padres manager Bud Black said afterward. "... We stay after it." Black was referring to Tuesday's game where the Padres came back from three different deficits, got home runs from Chase Headley and Kevin Kouzmanoff plus solid bullpen work and, finally, overcame the loss of Kouzmanoff with a left calf strain. Kouzmanoff's injury, sustained in the eighth inning running the bases, was why Hundley -- who hadn't played the outfield since his days at the University of Arizona -- was left to play the outfield in the ninth inning. There's no word on the extent of Kouzmanoff's injury, though Hundley was fine with the chance to play in the outfield, on his 26th birthday no less. "It's been awhile," he said. "It's amazing to see things from that vantage point out there. I guess you can say it was interesting." So was the rest of the game, especially since the Padres were able to come back after the Giants' starting pitcher, 20-year-old Madison Bumgarner, made his Major League debut after scheduled starter Tim Lincecum was scratched with lower back pain. Oddly enough, this wasn't the first time Black had seen Bumgarner. The Padres skipper saw the young Giants starter pitch in Spring Training in Scottsdale, Ariz. His impression, at the time, was that Bumgarner was "big, strong and with a good live fastball." Bumgarner, the Giants' No. 1 pick (10th overall) in 2007, struck out four, walked one and, generally, kept the Padres guessing with a four-seam fastball in the low 90s and a slider that had late movement on it in the hitting area. He allowed two runs in 5 1/3 innings. Former Giant Kevin Correia didn't factor in the decision but recovered well after yielding two runs in the first two innings. Correia, in his team-leading 29th start of 2009, went six innings, allowing three runs with five strikeouts and one walk. The Padres took care of the rest as Luke Gregerson bailed Adam Russell out of a difficult spot with two runners on in the seventh inning when he got Bengie Molina to end the inning by popping up to Everth Cabrera. In perhaps his best outing with the Padres, rookie Ryan Webb worked a scoreless eighth inning, striking out two while fashioning a 96 mph fastball and a 91 mph slider that had significant bite in the strike zone. Closer Heath Bell worked a scoreless ninth inning for his 36th save, with the last out in the game coming to rest when Eugenio Velez flied out to Hundley in left. "He looked solid out there," Headley said. "He's a good athlete." The Padres went ahead in the eighth inning when Adrian Gonzalez and Kouzmanoff opened the inning with singles. Headley then punched a single to right field and Padres third-base coach Glenn Hoffman waved Gonzalez around third base. The throw from right fielder Nate Schierholtz was up the third-base line, though it beat Gonzalez to the plate. However, Molina couldn't handle it as Gonzalez slid in safely for the lead. "Adrian sold it -- he gave me a great jump," Hoffman said. "Adrian was being aggressive and got a good jump at second base."
Corey Brock is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.