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Three homers power Giants over Padres

The SportsXchange

SAN FRANCISCO -- Juan Perez thought nothing he'd ever do in his major-league career would rival his three-hit performance in front of family and friends in his native New York last week.

Turns out he was wrong.

Perez belted his first big-league home run on Friday, threw out a runner at third base, made a diving catch in center field and had two other hits, helping the San Francisco Giants thump the San Diego Padres 7-3.

"That game in New York, that's a game I'll never forget," the 26-year-old rookie said of last Thursday's 3-for-3 performance in a 2-1 win. "But I'll never forget the home run, either."

Perez, Brandon Belt and Hunter Pence all hit home runs on just the Giants' second three-homer night of the season at AT&T Park in the opener of a season-ending, three-game series.

The win allowed the Giants, the defending National League West and World Series champions, to move into a tie with the Padres for third place in the division at 75-85. The Giants have won nine of their last 13 games.

Ryan Vogelsong (4-6), the third consecutive starter making perhaps his final Giants appearance as he prepares to embark on free agency, won for the first time in six starts. He gave up five hits and four walks but just two runs in six innings. He struck out three.

Perez's homer, with Pablo Sandoval aboard, came in the bottom of the second inning after the Padres had taken a 1-0 lead against Vogelsong. The home run came in Perez's 79th major-league at-bat after he had smacked 10 homers in 382 at-bats at Triple-A Fresno this season.

"Sooner or later, as soon as I could catch up to one, I knew I'd hit a home run," Perez said. "AT&T Park is so big, you can't focus on hitting homers. I just try to get hits."

That's what he did in the sixth and eighth innings, contributing a single and a double as the Giants stretched their lead to 7-2.

Padres pinch-hitter Logan Forsythe's first-pitch homer off Giants reliever Javier Lopez in the ninth capped the scoring.

"Every game is important," Padres manager Bud Black responded when asked about finishing third in the AL West. "Every game, you play to win. I'm sure the Giants are going to do it. And that's what we're going to do."

After rookie Jedd Gyorko's second of three hits, an RBI double, got the Padres even in the third, Belt followed a Tony Abreu single in the bottom of the inning with a shot into the right field pavilion for a 4-2 lead. The home run was the first baseman's 17th of the season.

Two batters later, Pence made it a three-run game with his 26th home run of the season.

All three homers came off Padres right-hander Burch Smith (1-3), who was scorched for six runs in 5 2/3 innings. He surrendered eight hits and three walks but did intersperse eight strikeouts.

"Today was a good learning experience for Burch," Black said. "He struck out some of their better hitters. But when a pitcher leaves balls in the middle of the plate and up, they will get hit."

Abreu and Gregor Blanco, who drove in two runs, joined Perez as three-hit Giants as San Francisco outhit the Padres 11-9.

The win was the Giants' 10th in 17 games against San Diego, allowing them to clinch the season series.

Gyorko's RBI was his team-leading 57th of the season.

NOTES: The Giants' other three-homer game came May 12 against Atlanta. ... San Francisco now has 26 home runs in September, the most it has hit in any month this season. ... The Giants and Padres are meeting on the final weekend of the season for the third time in the past five years. ... Colorado's loss to the Los Angeles Dodgers assured the Rockies will finish behind the Giants and Padres in the NL West. ... The Giants announced before the game that Pence had been selected the winner of the Willie Mac Award, given annually to the club's most inspirational player. Pence is the only major leaguer to have started all 160 games through Friday. ... Giants manager Bruce Bochy announced after the game that RHP Guillermo Moscoso will replace RHP Matt Cain as San Francisco's starting pitcher in the finale on Sunday. ... Padres backup C Rene Rivera is not with the team for the season-ending series, having returned to his native Puerto Rico to be with his wife, Mariel, who is expecting twins this weekend. ... Jimmy Spithill, skipper of the America's Cup-winning boat, attended the game with several members of his crew.
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