This is going to be some weekend in Los Angeles.
“It's a great way to get on an airplane,” manager Bruce Bochy said Thursday, after a 4-2 victory over the Cincinnati Reds turned the Padres' next series into exactly what they wanted.
With the NL West-leading Dodgers losing to the Cubs 6-5, the Padres left town only a half-game out - their smallest deficit since Aug. 10.
Up next: Four games with first place up for grabs.
“Oh, man, it's about as big as it can get around here,” said Mike Cameron, whose bases-loaded single broke open a scoreless game in the seventh inning. “We've got a little bit of energy and momentum going into LA. I'm sure they're going to be ready to go and everything. And it's going to be a big Friday night matinee in LA.”
Before they could think about moving up, the Padres had to take care of a team that's all but out of it. Cameron's two-run single off Aaron Harang (13-11) could go down as the hit that finally toppled the Reds, who lost two of three in a pivotal series.
Since they moved within a percentage point of first place in the NL Central on Aug. 24, the Reds have lost 13 of 18. Cincinnati stands fifth in the wild-card race, trailing the Padres by 4 1/2 with 16 games left.
“We've battled all year and showed a lot of heart and character, but we're not in a good spot,” manager Jerry Narron said.
The Reds have no more games with the Padres or the Central-leading St. Louis Cardinals, making it difficult to make up ground. The three games against San Diego amounted to a last chance.