SAN DIEGO – Unlikely homers, timely hits and Heath Bell's record-tying save combined for a San Diego victory.
Rob Johnson's solo homer in the eighth inning put the Padres ahead and Bell came on for his 41st consecutive save to give the Padres a 6-5 win over the Pittsburgh Pirates on Tuesday night.
Bell's save tied him with all-time leader Trevor Hoffman for the franchise record. It also tied Bell with Hoffman and Rod Beck for fourth place on the all-time consecutive saves list.
"It's a huge honor that my name is in the same sentence with Trevor Hoffman," Bell said. "I know my answer is really boring, but for right now, it's just another save."
The Padres, last in the NL in batting average and runs scored, had 11 hits and scored more than three runs for just the fourth time in 17 home games this season. San Diego, still with the majors' worst home record at 5-12, got a number of clutch hits that have been missing this season — and some came from unlikely sources.
Starting pitcher Mat Latos and utilityman Eric Patterson hit solo homers in the third inning to go along with Johnson's eighth-inning blast. It was the first home run of the season for all three players.
"It's no secret we've been struggling offensively so far this season," Patterson said. "But to battle back like we did, says a lot about the character of our team."
Johnson's home run came off Joe Beimel (0-1) and had the Padres celebrating.
"It's an awesome feeling," said Johnson, who hadn't homered since last May 18 when he played for Seattle. "I really don't know how to explain it. I'm just pumped to be able to get a win."
Mike Adams (1-0) pitched one inning for the victory.
Bell pitched the ninth for his seventh save this season but need some help from Johnson behind the plate. Bell walked Brandon Wood to lead off the ninth. After a sacrifice bunt, Bell bounced a pitch in the dirt and Wood took off for third base. Johnson pounced on the ball and fired a low strike to Chase Headley for the second out. Bell then struck out pinch hitter Ryan Doumit to end the game.
"I think Rob deserves a save and a win," said Bell about the catcher's throw.
"You see (the ball) in the dirt and it's just a reaction to take off," Wood said. "In that situation, I felt comfortable with it. Unfortunately, it didn't work out."
Pittsburgh manager Clint Hurdle wasn't sure Woods' play was smart.
"You're already in scoring position and if you're safe, we're all happy," Hurdle said. "But he pushed the envelope a little bit. At times you have to be smart, so when you're out at third like that, it never looks good."
After the Pirates had taken a 5-3 lead in the seventh with three runs off reliever Luke Gregerson, San Diego rallied to tie the score at 5-all in the bottom half.
Chris Denorfia and Jason Bartlett each had consecutive infield singles in the seventh against Mike Crotta. Patterson's bunt down the third-base line off Beimel loaded the bases. The left-handed Beimel then walked Ryan Ludwick to force in one run, and another scored on Jorge Cantu's double-play ground ball.
Pinch hitter Matt Diaz doubled in one run in the Pittsburgh seventh and Andrew McCutchen followed with a two-run single to give the Pirates a 5-3 lead.
The Pirates' seventh-inning rally against Gregerson prevented Latos from winning for the first time since Sept. 7. Latos had lost nine straight games in nine straight starts since last season, which tied the club record.
Latos, who lost his first four starts this season, allowed two runs on five hits over six innings. The right-hander gave up Neil Walker's two-run double in the first.
He also led off the third with a homer into the second deck in left field. It was the first ever home run for Latos, a career .088 hitter.
Patterson, who came into the game hitting .071 (2 for 28), hit a solo homer to center field to tie the game at 2-all. Patterson hadn't homered since last July 10 for Boston at Tampa Bay.
Ludwick followed with a double and scored on Cameron Maybin's two-out single to put San Diego ahead.
Patterson replaced second baseman Orlando Hudson, who left the game with a right hamstring strain after he doubled in the first inning.
Notes: Pirates 3B Pedro Alvarez left the game after the fifth inning with tightness in his right quad. ... Latos' homer was the first by a Padres pitcher at Petco Park, which opened in 2004. His other home run came last season on July 8 at Washington. ... The last Padres pitcher to hit a home run in San Diego was Adam Eaton on April 29, 2003 against Pittsburgh.