SAN DIEGO -- The Giants finally benefited from those lucky breaks they've claimed to be missing in recent weeks, as Angel Pagan's eighth-inning bloop single broke a scoreless tie Thursday and propelled San Francisco to a 2-1 victory over the Padres at Petco Park.
The win moved the Giants one-half game ahead of the idle Cardinals and kept them tied with the Mets in the National League Wild Card spots. San Francisco and New York -- which beat Philadelphia in 11 innings Thursday -- are both 81-72 with nine regular-season games left to play.
With runners at the corners and one out in the eighth, Pagan hit a fly ball up the right-field line that landed fair. Padres right fielder Hunter Renfroe grabbed the ball and unleashed a throw home that first baseman Wil Myers cut off as Joe Panik scored. One out later, Hunter Pence lined an RBI double, which became essential when pinch-hitter Alex Dickerson homered in the eighth for San Diego.
Panik's contribution to San Francisco's rally was as welcome as it was timely. His leadoff ground-rule double snapped an 0-for-24 skid. Wednesday night at Los Angeles, Panik was robbed of a hit when Dodgers right fielder Yasiel Puig made an acrobatic catch of his line drive to the warning track. Instead of allowing that to deflate his spirit, Panik said, "I kind of rode that into today."
Christian Friedrich worked a career-high-tying seven-plus innings for the Padres, and allowed just one hit through seven innings before being lifted after back-to-back hits to open the eighth.
"Thought he was outstanding," said Padres manager Andy Green. "It's one of those games where you hate to see a guy get a loss after."
Friedrich said that his chemistry with recently promoted catcher Austin Hedges was good, and that having pitching well this late in the season after throwing just 58 1/3 innings last year would help him going forward.
"It's nice to keep pitching," he said. "It would be hard to sit and watch in September. Validation or not, I think it just helps for me building up as a starter next year, definitely enjoy adding on innings knowing that next year it will be a lot easier coming back."
MOMENTS THAT MATTERED Holding 'em: The late innings have been an adventure for the Giants, but an outstanding play by third baseman Eduardo Nunez on Manuel Margot's smash helped them survive the eighth, despite Dickerson's homer.
Sergio Romo, who earned the save Tuesday in the Giants' lone victory in their three-game series against the Dodgers, again recorded the final three outs.
Giants manager Bruce Bochy was convinced that Romo, helped by his tricky slider, could neutralize the power Padres who were due to bat in the ninth: Myers (27 home runs), Ryan Schimpf (19 homers) and Renfroe (30 homers at Triple-A). Schimpf doubled but advanced no farther.
"He's really responded well, so he had that inning," Bochy said of Romo, who owns a 1.80 ERA in his last 22 appearances.
Pinch-hit power: Dickerson was the odd man out, with the Padres now looking at a good amount of outfield depth. However, Green was quick to point out that the 26-year-old outfielder would continue to get his opportunities. He made the most of a pinch-hit chance in the eighth inning, driving a solo homer a Statcast-estimated 398 feet over the right-field fence to put San Diego on the board.
"Alex Dickerson brings a different kind of bat than the other guys, more of a middle-of-the-order type bat," Green said before the game. "I think he's a very good Major League bat. He's going to hit for a long time."
Getting tough: Samardzija courted trouble in the sixth inning, when he committed a throwing error that enabled Friedrich to reach base before Travis Jankowski singled. But Samardzija asserted himself by coaxing Margot's popup before striking out Myers and Schimpf.
Samardzija was more determined than usual to escape the jam.
"You kind of don't want to be the goat when it comes to having a good day and losing the game because you threw it away," he said.
Hunting for hits: After getting intentionally walked in his first Major League plate appearance Wednesday, Renfroe wasted no time getting his first big league hit. The Padres' No. 3 prospect was the only San Diego baserunner through the first five innings against Samardzija, with singles in the second and fifth innings.
"It felt good to get it out of the way, and it felt good to be on base," Renfroe said. "I was just trying to get it out of the way and the whole first game, just get it out of the way really. I felt good. Hopefully many more to come."
"I thought [Jose Torres] was great. He gave up the first-pitch double to [Brandon Belt] and then after that, you punch a couple guys out and get through the inning. That's a live-arm lefty right there. That's another great acquisition that we're looking forward to seeing more of." -- Green, on Torres' MLB debut in the ninth inning.
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The Padres' lineup featured no players in their 30s and an average age of 24.9 years, with Friedrich (29) and rookie Schimpf (28) playing the role of wizened veterans. Each of the other starters were 25 or younger, with Margot (21) being the youngest of the group.
WHAT'S NEXT Giants: It's great that Albert Suarez, San Francisco's starter in Friday's rematch with the Padres at 7:40 p.m. PT, has allowed three runs or fewer in 11 consecutive starts. Durability, however, has not been his strong suit. He has lasted long enough (at least six innings) to record only two quality starts.
Padres:Edwin Jackson gets the nod at 7:40 p.m. PT on Friday, when he'll try and put his most recent start behind him. The 33-year-old righty allowed eight runs vs. the Rockies at Coors Field during his last outing, but has seen much more success this season within the confines of Petco Park .