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PIT@SD: Johnson's homer puts the Padres on top

SAN DIEGO -- Heath Bell has apparently been so good at stockpiling saves over the past two seasons that he doesn't mind conceding one to a teammate, even if it's a historic one.

While it's true that Bell got the final three outs in the Padres' 6-5 comeback victory over the Pirates on Tuesday at PETCO Park, he felt catcher Rob Johnson deserved more than just a pat on the back.

"You've got to give him the save tonight," Bell said. "... He got the win and the save tonight."

Johnson hit a tie-breaking home run in the eighth inning and then threw out the potential tying run in Brandon Wood in the top of the ninth as Wood attempted to move up to third base on a ball in the dirt.

"It just shows you how good Rob is," Bell said.

Bell is no slouch either, not after earning his seventh save of the season and tying Trevor Hoffman for the most consecutive saves (41) in franchise history.

"It's a great milestone to be mentioned with Trevor," Padres manager Bud Black said of Hoffman, the Major League career saves leader.

The heroics by Johnson and Bell's save were just a few of the storylines Tuesday for the Padres (12-18), plenty to keep the crowd of 18,636 enchanted.

There was the performance on the mound and, surprisingly, at the plate from Mat Latos, who entered the game with nine consecutive losses. Latos allowed a two-run double to Neil Walker in the first inning before he finished with five scoreless innings thereafter.

Then, in the bottom of the third inning, Latos got into a fastball from Pirates pitcher Jeff Karstens, sending it in -- and then out of -- the first row of seats in the upper deck in left field.

It was Latos' second career home run and also the first home run hit at PETCO Park by a Padres pitcher.

"We watch our pitchers hit in our home games and Mat does show a lot of power. He's got that strength," Black said.

Latos wasn't bad on the mound, either. He allowed three hits after that first inning and finished with two walks and five strikeouts. He didn't factor in the decision, though his catcher said he pitched well enough to win, especially after the first.

"Something just clicked," said Johnson, who has caught Latos three times this season. "His fastball was tight and his slider had a lot of life to it."

Latos appeared to be in line for his first victory, but reliever Luke Gregerson allowed three runs to score as the Pirates (14-16) took a 5-3 lead in the seventh inning.

The Padres' bats showed some life, and not just from the unlikely power of Latos, Eric Patterson -- who also hit a solo home run in the third inning -- and Johnson.

Trailing 5-3 in the seventh inning, San Diego began its comeback against Pirates relief pitcher Joe Beimel, who walked Ryan Ludwick with the bases loaded to force in a run. The tying run then crossed the plate when Jorge Cantu hit into a double play.

Mike Adams worked a scoreless eighth inning, lowering his ERA to 0.60, to set up the home run by Johnson -- his first of the season -- in the bottom of the eighth inning on a slider to culminate an eight-pitch at-bat against Beimel.

In the ninth inning, Bell walked the leadoff hitter, Wood, who moved to second base on a bunt. When Bell uncorked a curveball, Johnson, using the proper technique, blocked down as the ball trickled no more than two feet away.

Wood took off for third base as Johnson grabbed the ball and fired it to third baseman Chase Headley, who tagged Wood out.

"It's a pretty cool feeling," said Johnson, still wearing the remnants of a shaving-cream pie to the face when he addressed reporters afterward. "It's an awesome feeling. I don't know how to explain it."

The game might have ended sweetly for the Padres, though it certainly didn't start out that way -- not with Latos allowing two runs on two hits and a walk in the first inning.

Worse yet, Padres second baseman Orlando Hudson left the game in the bottom of the first after pulling up at second base following a double clutching his right hamstring. The Padres said Hudson is listed as day to day with a strain.

"We'll see how it sets up overnight and evaluate tomorrow," Black said. Comments