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Amarista saves the day with sensational grab

Center fielder's play in ninth sets up Padres to win in 10 innings

Amarista saves the day with sensational grab

MINNEAPOLIS -- In Kevin Quackenbush's time in the Major Leagues this season, the rookie reliever has watched teammate Alexi Amarista do most of his work with his glove in the infield.

On Wednesday, though, Quackenbush got to see what Amarista was capable of in bigger spaces -- and in bigger situations.

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Before Seth Smith hit a solo home run in the 10th inning that proved to be the game-winner in a 5-4 victory over the Twins at Target Field, Amarista saved the game with a stunning running catch in center field in the bottom of the ninth.

With two outs and runners on first and second, Eduardo Escobar lined a ball to deep center field. Amarista -- playing relatively shallow for a potential play at the plate on a single -- turned his back and took off running.

Quackenbush admitted to being just a little worried.

"I knew it was hit well, but I knew it wouldn't be off the wall," he said. "I got a little nervous when I saw [Amarista] running straight back for it."

No need to worry, as Amarista corralled the ball to send the game to extra innings.

"I was climbing over the rail, to be honest with you. I thought for sure [the ball would fall in]. He was playing really shallow, too," Twins second baseman Brian Dozier said. "But that guy is a burner out there, and he made a great play. He pretty much won the game for them. We all thought for sure it was game-winning."

After the game, Padres manager Bud Black was asked if he thought Amarista had a shot to catch the ball as it left Escobar's bat.

"Off the bat? No," Black said. "It was struck well and we had [Escobar] shaded [in], but then you saw his route and the flight of the ball, and you start thinking, 'Maybe.'"

Amarista has appeared in 21 games at second base, 22 at third base, 26 at shortstop and 24 in the outfield. He didn't even start the game in center field, moving there in the seventh after entering the game as a pinch-hitter.

"It was a great catch," Black said. "But a play like that doesn't surprise me. We always feel good about Lexi."

Corey Brock is a reporter for MLB.com. Keep track of @FollowThePadres on Twitter. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

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