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SF@SD: Denorfia dives for amazing run-saving grab

SAN DIEGO -- Chris Denorfia sat and watched a majority of Sunday's game from inside the home dugout at Petco Park, preparing himself for any circumstance in case he got into the game against the Giants.

It's a good thing, too. Because Denorfia got a little bit of everything once he entered the game, including a wild five-minute stretch where his disposition essentially mirrored that of his team.

"Very rarely do you come off the bench and have a chance to alter a game in just five minutes," Denorfia said.

Call it deflation followed by elation.

Denorfia's grab of a sinking liner in the eighth inning prevented two runs from scoring and allowed the Padres to pull off a three-game sweep of the Giants with a 6-4 victory.

It was the Padres' first sweep of a series against the Giants (13-12) since May 11-13, 2010, and, despite how well Sunday started for them, it nearly didn't happen.

The Padres, who have won their last four games, built leads of 5-1 and later 6-2 on home runs by Chase Headley, Nick Hundley and Alexi Amarista.

But the Giants -- who just last weekend swept a three-game series from the Padres at AT&T Park -- came back to score twice in the eighth inning.

The two runs scored as Giants catcher Buster Posey took a pitch from Brad Brach the other way to right field with Denorfia -- who entered the game as a pinch-hitter in the sixth -- tracking it to the wall, a wall that is 11 feet shorter after offseason dimension modifications.

Denorfia wasn't exactly camped under the ball but felt he was in a good position to catch it. But it glanced off the side of his glove and two runs scored to make it 6-4.

"I was mad more than anything else," he said.

But that passed soon enough as later in the inning, and with two runners on, Andres Torres hit a liner to right field that Denorfia made a tumbling catch on to end the inning and the Giants' only hope of salvaging a game in the series.

"I was mad I didn't get the first one and then elated I got the second one," Denorfia said.

Said Giants manager Bruce Bochy: "They made a great play on it. That's what wins ballgames for you."

That up-and-down inning for Denorfia reflected the kind of month the Padres (9-15) have had to this point.

The Padres have now played eight series in 2013 and five have ended in sweeps -- victories over both the Dodgers and Giants and losses to the Giants and Rockies (twice).

"You can't explain it," said Padres manager Bud Black. "I wish that I could. You never know how a month is going to play out, let alone a week."

It was just a week ago that the Padres came home from being swept by the Giants, as their hitters were reduced to rubble -- two runs in 27 innings -- by the pitching of Madison Bumgarner and Barry Zito.

But in this series, the Padres scored 16 runs in three games. They had 10 hits Sunday, three by Headley, who raised his average from .182 to .250 with his second home run of the season and two doubles. He also reached base on a walk and is starting to look like the hitter he was a year ago.

"Just good swings," Headley said as he compared the two series. "The guys are having good at-bats. It's great to see guys hit some home runs."

This was Headley's 10th game back after missing the team's first 14 games with a fractured tip of his left thumb.

"It's been frustrating -- the last few days I was having good swings and good at-bats and not getting the results," he said. "But you keep grinding away at it and today I got the results."

San Diego pitcher Jason Marquis (2-2) wobbled early, allowing seven baserunners over the first four innings. He allowed a run in the second inning and the Giants were looking for an even bigger inning during the third after Marco Scutaro walked and Pablo Sandoval had the first of his four hits.

But Marquis got Hunter Pence to bounce into a 5-4-3 double play to end the inning. One inning later, Marquis allowed a leadoff single to Brandon Belt but got another double-play ball. Marquis pitched better thereafter, allowing two runs on six hits and four walks in 6 2/3 innings.

The Padres needed a longer start from Marquis after the bullpen was squeezed for eight innings in Saturday's 8-7 victory in 12 innings.

"We needed it," Black said. "... If you look at the use of all those guys [the relievers], it was big Jason gave us those outs. He started making pitches as the game progressed. The double-play ball to Pence in the third was a big point."

The team's fence modification completed this past offseason might not have been center stage Sunday, though it came into play -- for both sides.

Amarista hit a two-run home run just over the right-field wall in the fourth inning. That marked the first time in 12 home games the Padres have benefited from a home run that would not have been one a year ago.

What does it all mean?

"We'll see. ... It's a small sample," Black said. "But it has had an impact."

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