Padres find solace at home

Believe it or not, the Padres climbed above .500 at home Wednesday for the first time since they won the season opener.

When pinch hitter Paul McAnulty hit a two-run, walk-off homer to break up a scoreless tie in the 11th inning, the Padres moved to 38-37 at home with a fifth consecutive win to close out a six-game homestand.

McAnulty's game-winning homer in the 11th inning Wednesday was the first home run of his big-league career. He had 24 at-bats with San Diego last season and six this year heading into his Wednesday appearance.

"It's great to play well at home," manager Bruce Bochy said. "We had to fix the problem. And we had a great homestand."

The feeling could extend past the home record.

Wednesday night's win ran the Padres' record to 12-4 since Aug. 19 and moved them seven games above .500 (73-66) for the first time since July 26. The victory also boosted San Diego's lead in the wild-card race to three games over Philadelphia and Florida, although the Padres remain one game behind the Dodgers in the National League West.

"Something sparked us here," said reliever Cla Meredith, who is supplying a lot of the spark these days with his scoreless streak up to 29 innings. "There's a totally different feeling in here. And it feels totally different in the bullpen."

Said Bochy: "The whole series, it's hard to get more exciting than that."

Clay Hensley has been the Padres' most effective starter since Aug. 1. In five starts and one relief appearance, Hensley has allowed 10 runs on 38 hits in 41 2/3 innings -- an ERA of 2.16. But the Padres have scored only 13 runs over that span while Hensley was in the game, leading to a 2-3 record. On Aug. 14, Hensley lost a 1-0 decision to the Giants on an unearned run. Since the end of July, Hensley's ERA has dropped from 4.46 to 3.87.

REPLAY: Paul McAnulty might have supplied the margin Wednesday with his two-run homer in a 2-0 win over the Rockies. But five Padres pitchers worked 11 innings of shutout ball -- beginning with starter Clay Hensley (three hits over seven innings) and ending with side-arming, right-handed reliever Cla Meredith, who worked two scoreless innings. Meredith thus extended his scoreless innings streak to 29, the longest run ever by a Padres reliever and the second-longest scoreless-innings streak in Padres history to Randy Jones' 30-inning run in 1980.

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