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Pads avoid sweep in extra innings, retake NL West lead

SAN FRANCISCO (AP) -- Mike Cameron already had two flyouts to
center field Sunday, and his luck had been similar all series with
Steve Finley covering plenty of ground.

But Cameron finally found a gap in the biggest part of the
ballpark -- the key hit San Diego needed to get back on top.

Cameron tripled leading off the 12th inning and scored on a
sacrifice fly by pinch-hitter Eric Young, and the Padres avoided
their first four-game sweep in San Francisco in nearly 13 years
with a 6-5 victory over the Giants.

San Diego also regained the NL West lead, moving a half-game
ahead of the Giants by ending a four-game skid and snapping San
Francisco's season-best five-game winning streak.

"It was big in the sense of our psyche," Young said. "This is
July. Every team in this division knows it's going to come down to
the wire in September. Everybody is jockeying for position."

The Giants, who used all their position players, took a 5-4 lead
on Pedro Feliz's two-run single in the eighth before Terrmel Sledge
hit a tying homer leading off the San Diego ninth against Armando Benitez, the first long ball for Sledge since April 4, 2005.

Cameron tripled to the warning track in center against Brian Wilson (1-3), the seventh pitcher used by the Giants. Young
followed with a sacrifice fly to center.

"We needed it bad," Cameron said. "Stopping the losing streak
was the most important thing. ... I finally was able to get the
ball by Finley. Leading off the inning gave us a couple of
opportunities."

Jon Adkins (2-1) worked two innings for the win, and Trevor Hoffman got three outs for his 26th save in 29 chances. Mike Piazza
also homered for the Padres.

San Francisco was trying to win six in a row for the first time
since Aug. 30 to Sept. 5 last year and earn its first four-game
sweep since taking four in a row at home against the Dodgers from
June 21-24, 2004.

"It doesn't get any bigger than that," Padres manager Bruce
Bochy said. "So many good things happened today, despite giving up
the lead there late. Those guys fought hard. I think anytime you're
looking at getting swept in a four-game series, it's pretty ugly."

San Francisco rallied in the eighth against Scott Linebrink.
Shea Hillenbrand singled with one out before Barry Bonds' second
walk of the game. Ray Durham followed with an RBI single to make it
4-3, and Finley's bloop single dropped between three players in
shallow center.

That loaded the bases and made Finley the 82nd player with 2,500
hits.

Feliz followed with a two-run single, and Padres catcher Rob
Bowen lost his mitt when Durham barreled into him at the plate. The
ball got away, but Finley got trapped off third after slipping as
he rounded the bag. Still missing his mitt, Bowen blocked the plate
and caught a throw from shortstop Khalil Greene -- on the fly -- in
his hands before tagging Finley, who pulled up as he approached.

Bonds, who turns 42 on Monday, played eight innings and went
0-for-2 with his 82nd and 83rd walks this year.

San Diego, which continues its 11-game road trip Monday at Los
Angeles, avoided being swept in a four-game series in San Francisco
for the first time since Sept. 24-27, 1993.

"I've been around the block a few years," 71-year-old Giants
manager Felipe Alou said. "You have a winning streak and play a
good team you're about to sweep, and anything can happen."

The Giants leave town for a trip to Washington and Pittsburgh
happy to have gone 6-4 on their homestand. They missed a chance to
win seven games on a homestand for the first time since going 9-1
from June 15-24, 2004.

Benitez blew his fifth save after converting each of his
previous seven chances.

"One mistake," Benitez said. "It costs the game. I don't have
an excuse. He beat me. So, we'll see next time. I'm upset with
myself."

Piazza homered to tie the score at 2 in the sixth and Greene hit
a go-ahead triple two batters later for the Padres, who ended a
five-game losing streak to the Giants after taking five of the
first six meetings this season.

Omar Vizquel lined a go-ahead single in the fifth inning, but
Piazza's 15th home run tied it.

Adrian Gonzalez extended his hitting streak to 14 games with a
leadoff double in the fifth, the first time Giants starter Jamey
Wright allowed a baserunner past first. Wright gave up four runs,
six hits and four walks in 5 1-3 innings.

Padres right fielder Brian Giles returned to the lineup after
missing two games with a tight right hamstring and went 0-for-4.

Game notes
Finley also doubled in the second. ... It was 88 degrees at
first pitch on another exceptionally hot summer day in the Bay
Area. ... Feliz, who has played every inning this year for the
Giants, stole his first base in the second and matched his career
high with three walks. ... Vizquel stole his 15th base. ... RHP
Vinnie Chulk made his Giants debut, two days after being acquired
in a trade from Toronto, and was in position for the win before
Benitez gave up the lead. ... San Diego's Dave Roberts stole his
25th base. ... Piazza leads all NL catchers in homers.