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Time was a-wastin’.

It was the 13th inning and past most reasonable bedtimes at San Francisco. The injury-depleted Padres were running out of time and out of guys healthy enough to play baseball.

In search of his 500th managerial win, Bud Black sent up a starting pitcher to pinch hit for a relief pitcher. Andrew Cashner was an unlikely offensive substitution. Scheduled to start the next night’s game, Cashner boasted just five hits and one walk in 34 career plate appearances.

With runners on first and third with nobody out, Cashner’s job was to get down a bunt and give Alexi Amarista a chance to score from third on a safety squeeze.

Cashner laid down a perfect bunt for an infield hit and the Padres had the go-ahead run. They tacked on an insurance run in the 13th on a bases-loaded walk to Yasmani Grandal.

With impatient seagulls circling AT&T Park, Huston Street came in to earn the save and complete the 5-3 comeback win. Huston’s inning of scoreless relief capped an eight-inning shutout performance for the Padres bullpen.

Cashner’s rare heroics were made possible by what has to be the so-far catch of the year by Will Venable. With two outs and a runner on second, San Francisco’s Juan Perez hit a deep fly to center field that looked destined to reach the wall and score a walk-off winning run for the Giants. Venable tracked back and made a spectacular leaping catch, getting a jersey full of warning track dirt and saving the game for the Padres.

The gutty win by surging San Diego salvaged what had been a dismal night of hitting with runners on base. Prior to their breakout in the 13th, the Padres had knocked out 14 hits but were just 2 for 17 with runners in scoring position.

Chase Headley showed signs of progress with two hits and three hard-hit outs. Pedro Ciriaco, acquired from the Red Sox just three days prior, started in place of hamstrung shortstop Everth Cabrera and got his first three hits as a Padre.

With their seventh straight win, San Diego leapfrogged San Francisco to claim third place at 36-34. Division-leading Arizona’s loss earlier in the evening leaves the Padres just one game out of first place in the crowded NL West.

Late inning hero Cashner takes the mound against the Giants’ Matt Cain tonight in San Francisco, with the Padres gunning for their eighth straight win and a share of the division lead.

Better late than never.

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Beau Lynott

Beau Lynott is a contributor to Voice of San Diego. Follow him on Twitter @lemonverbena_ or email lemonverbenaaa@gmail.com.

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