PITTSBURGH -- Despite Jordan Lyles' sudden sixth-inning implosion -- and despite the ever-reliable Kirby Yates surrendering a go-ahead run in the eighth -- the Padres squeezed out an 8-5 victory on Sunday afternoon in Pittsburgh.Freddy Galvis' pristine squeeze bunt was the perfect symbol of their improbable comeback -- a comeback
PITTSBURGH -- Despite Jordan Lyles' sudden sixth-inning implosion -- and despite the ever-reliable Kirby Yates surrendering a go-ahead run in the eighth -- the Padres squeezed out an 8-5 victory on Sunday afternoon in Pittsburgh.
Freddy Galvis' pristine squeeze bunt was the perfect symbol of their improbable comeback -- a comeback laden with practically every form of small ball.
With pinch-runner Franchy Cordero breaking from third base, Galvis dropped a go-ahead bunt to the right of the pitcher's mound. Cordero scored easily, Galvis was safe at first, and San Diego was on its way to a four-run ninth and its first victory when trailing after eight innings in 25 games this season.
"Everybody did a little bit," Galvis said. "We have to feel proud for a win like this, because everybody fought."
It was the Padres' second run-scoring squeeze of the afternoon, after Lyles had plated A.J. Ellis in the fifth. The stakes were much higher in the ninth when Galvis came to the dish in a tie game.
"I know Franchy was on third, and he has speed," Galvis said. "My job was just to put the ball on the ground."
That's precisely what Galvis did, as the Padres reversed their one-run deficit entering the frame. Josh Harrison, who went 3-for-4 in his return from the disabled list, had put the Pirates on top with an eighth-inning sacrifice fly.
The response was swift against Pittsburgh closer Felipe Vazquez. Jose Pirela and Christian Villanueva opened the frame with successive singles. Pirela scored when shortstop Jordy Mercer made a throwing error on Cory Spangenberg's grounder.
Spangenberg worked a brilliant nine-pitch at-bat, in which he fouled off six pitches from Vazquez before shooting a sharp two-hopper to Mercer's right.
"He steps up, battles, puts a ball in play, causes something to happen," said Padres manager Andy Green. "Sometimes if you just put a ball in play, good things happen."
The small ball persisted even after Galvis' bunt. He and Spangenberg executed a double steal, before Ellis singled through a drawn-in infield. That gave closer Brad Hand a three-run cushion. He loaded the bases in the bottom of the ninth, before Mercer lined out to end it. The Padres had their first series victory in Pittsburgh since 2014.
"Just about everybody played a part in that inning," Green said. "... It was a really good comeback."
MOMENTS THAT MATTERED
Trials of Lyles: Lyles was excellent for 5 2/3 innings, but the final out of the sixth proved too elusive. With two outs and nobody on, Lyles walked Colin Moran on four pitches before he surrendered a two-run homer to Austin Meadows -- the first of the highly touted prospect's Major League career. Green had the chance to call upon his bullpen, but instead chose to give Lyles one more hitter. Mercer made Green pay for that decision. On the first pitch, Mercer sent a game-tying solo shot into the left-field seats.
Villa time: Even during his torrid April, Villanueva had trouble solving right-handed pitching. But his two-run blast in the top of the fourth inning against Bucs starter Trevor Williams marked his second dinger in as many games against a Pirates righty. Villanueva's 12 homers this season are one shy of Washington's Bryce Harper and Atlanta's Ozzie Albies for the National League lead.
Villanueva is on the brink of making some history. With his fourth-inning homer, he equaled Geronimo Gil's record for home runs in a season by a Mexican-born rookie. Vinny Castilla's 46 blasts in 1998 are the most in a season by a Mexican-born player.
HE SAID IT
"There's a reason [Vazquez] has been one of the better closers in the league. You have to be aggressive, you have to take chances. That doesn't mean he's an easy guy to get a bunt down against. But you have to be willing to take those chances if you want to hang some runs on him." -- Green
The Padres travel to Washington for a three-game set with the Nationals beginning Monday night. Left-hander Robbie Erlin, who has been excellent in relief this season, is slated for a spot start in place of the injured Joey Lucchesi. It's unclear how much leash Erlin will be given. But he struggled earlier this season against the Dodgers in his lone start. First pitch is scheduled for 4:05 p.m. PT, and the Nats will counter with left-hander Giovany Gonzalez.
AJ Cassavell covers the Padres for MLB.com. Follow him on Twitter @ajcassavell.