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GAME OF THE DAY

Padres Get Ready by Beating Reds, 4-2

September 15, 2006|From the Associated Press

CINCINNATI — With another pursuer bumped to the roadside, the San Diego Padres packed up their wild-card lead and headed for a first-place showdown on the West Coast.

"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 National League West-leading Dodgers losing to the Chicago Cubs, 6-5, the Padres left town only half a game out.

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 L.A. 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 L.A."

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.

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