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Hosmer's HR in 9th keys Padres' victory

MLB.com @AJCassavell

SAN FRANCISCO -- Sign the Padres up for 7 1/2 more years of dramatic moments like that one.

Eric Hosmer smashed a go-ahead solo homer in the top of the ninth inning, sending San Diego to an exhilarating 3-2 victory over the Giants on Tuesday night. The slugging Padres first baseman went to the opposite field with a 2-1 fastball from Giants right-hander Hunter Strickland for his third homer of the season -- and easily his most meaningful.

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SAN FRANCISCO -- Sign the Padres up for 7 1/2 more years of dramatic moments like that one.

Eric Hosmer smashed a go-ahead solo homer in the top of the ninth inning, sending San Diego to an exhilarating 3-2 victory over the Giants on Tuesday night. The slugging Padres first baseman went to the opposite field with a 2-1 fastball from Giants right-hander Hunter Strickland for his third homer of the season -- and easily his most meaningful.

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As he rounded first base, Hosmer pumped his fist and pointed into the visiting dugout, which roared back in unison. The rest of AT&T Park went silent.

"Everybody wants to be the guy to make the big swing," said Hosmer. "We want to turn things around, get things going. It felt good to be on the right side of this one."

Hosmer, who signed a franchise-record eight-year deal with the Padres during the offseason, has been red-hot for about a week. In his last six games, he has 11 hits and eight walks. This was the exclamation point.

Closer Brad Hand, who threw 37 pitches in an ugly blown save on Monday night, returned to the mound Tuesday and made quick work of the Giants in the bottom of the ninth to seal the victory.

Video: SD@SF: Hand gets McCutchen to fly out to earn save

"It felt good to put the team ahead, give the ball to Brad, and we all know he was ready for that chance," Hosmer said. "That says a lot about him. He threw [37] pitches last night and wanted to take the ball today. When your closer shows you he's willing to take the ball like that, it fires you up as a team."

Padres right-hander Tyson Ross turned in another excellent start as he continues to look more and more like the version of himself who pitched for the Padres from 2013-15. Ross' slider was as good as it's ever been, and he used it to great effect over six innings. The veteran right-hander struck out nine and allowed just one run on four hits.

Video: SD@SF: Ross fans nine over six strong frames

Christian Villanueva gave the Padres an early edge, swatting his ninth homer of the season to move him within one of the National League lead. Three innings later, Hosmer tripled and scored, putting the Padres on top 2-0.

Video: SD@SF: Villanueva belts a solo homer to left

The Giants clawed their way back with two-out RBIs in the fifth and seventh, setting the stage for Hosmer to break the deadlock.

"The ball is not carrying here," said Padres manager Andy Green. "You could tell all night long the ball was getting knocked down. He pierced the wind the other way. There's not many guys that can do that. He's got ridiculous pop that way."

That "ridiculous pop" is precisely what the Padres signed up for.

MOMENTS THAT MATTERED
Outfield wizardry: The Padres have used a trio of center fielders to man the AT&T Park outfield in the first two games of the series. That strategy paid off in a big way on Tuesday with two of the most sensational catches of their season.

Video: SD@SF: Margot slams against wall to make the grab

In the top of the first inning, Manuel Margot made a brilliant running grab just before he ran into the center-field wall on a deep drive from Andrew McCutchen. Margot has expressed his desire to win a Gold Glove, and he'll put himself in the discussion with plays like that one.

Then in the sixth, right fielder Travis Jankowski ranged far to his left to make a sprawling grab on an Evan Longoria pop fly. During his route, he battled supremely windy conditions, tracking the ball the entire way before laying out and making a snow-cone grab.

Video: SD@SF: Jankowski lays out for a phenomenal grab

"Manny's [catch] in center was awesome, because that set the tone early," Ross said. "Then Travis -- that was a heck of a play. He had the hair flowing, full-extension. That was awesome."

HE SAID IT
"The best thing about him: The first at-bat today wasn't a good one. He pops up in the infield on the first pitch he sees from a guy he doesn't really know. Right after that, he goes right back to grinding the next at-bat. He doesn't let the past linger. … He allows the good energy from the good at-bats to carry over, and the bad energy he gets rid of." -- Green, on Hosmer

UP NEXT
Clayton Richard will be looking to build on an impressive showing against the Mets on Friday. He gets the ball Wednesday afternoon opposite fellow veteran left-hander Derek Holland. First pitch is slated for 12:45 p.m. PT. A red-hot Hosmer will be looking to continue his success against Holland. In 16 at-bats, Hosmer has seven hits, including a double and a homer.

AJ Cassavell covers the Padres for MLB.com. Follow him on Twitter @ajcassavell.

San Diego Padres, Eric Hosmer