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ARI@SD: Amarista singles to win it in the 11th

SAN DIEGO -- Throughout the 2013 season, the Padres always seemed to play their best baseball at home. That sort of trend is par for the course for most clubs, but for San Diego, its splits were a bit more profound than its peers.

So as the Padres finished up their home slate at Petco Park on Thursday, it was only fitting that the team delivered a wild extra-inning victory to send the 21,393 fans in attendance home happy.

Tied at 2 in the 11th, Alexi Amarista smacked a Josh Collmenter changeup through the middle into center field to drive in the game-winning run and give the Padres their ninth walk-off of the year in a 3-2 victory over the D-backs.

With the win, San Diego finished its home schedule at 45-36. The club still has three more road games to play this weekend in San Francisco, but as it stood after Thursday's contest, the Padres' 15 more wins at home than on the road (30-48) were more than any other Major League squad except the Rockies.

"Any team will tell you they feel better at home, so it's good to see that we did it on the field," Padres manager Bud Black said. "This is a good ballpark to play in, our guys like playing here and our fans are great."

Tommy Medica got the 11th-inning rally started when he reached on a leadoff infield single before Jesus Guzman appeared to fly out to center for the first out of the frame. D-backs center fielder A.J. Pollock, however, lost track of the sky-high ball and let it drop behind him for a double to put runners on second and third with nobody out.

"It just disappeared," Pollock said. "It was like going into a room and them shutting the lights off when someone throws a ball at you."

Arizona then intentionally walked Nick Hundley to load the bases, setting up Amarista's heroics one batter later.

"I was waiting on the changeup and I got good contact," Amarista said about his first career walk-off hit. "I'm just very happy to win."

Keeping the club's chances alive and giving the offense the opportunity it needed in the 11th was the Padres' pitching staff, which retired the final 24 batters it faced. The bullpen tossed four perfect innings, with Nick Vincent recording the final two and earning the win for his efforts.

"You know what that is? That's good pitching," Black said. "They've got some nice players over there, but they didn't have many baserunners. Good stuff. The bullpen did a nice job, no doubt. All solid in relief and obviously in a tight game, that's what it takes to win."

Following two quick innings to start the game, Jedd Gyorko broke the scoreless tie in the third with an inside-out swing, shooting the ball into right field for a two-out RBI single. The next batter, Chase Headley, continued the rally by driving a Trevor Cahill offering over the head of Pollock to bring in Gyorko and extend the Padres' advantage to 2-0.

That lead, however, didn't last long.

After giving up a leadoff single to Paul Goldschmidt in the fourth, Padres starter Robbie Erlin left a fastball elevated in the zone to Martin Prado, who deposited the pitch into the first row of the left-field stands to abruptly tie the game back up at 2.

Those two runs would be all the D-backs would get off Erlin though, as the left-hander retired the final 12 batters he faced to finish his outing, and his season, with a strong seven-inning, seven-strikeout performance while allowing just three hits.

"I felt good out there," Erlin said. "It was just about throwing strikes and trying to get ahead."

Ranked by MLB.com as the Padres' No. 15 prospect, Erlin completed his impressive rookie season by going 2-1 with a stellar 1.97 ERA over his final five starts of the year. Black didn't want to look too far ahead into the future, but the manager said he's looking forward to seeing the southpaw compete for a job in the rotation next year.

"Robbie is definitely in the mix," Black said. "We've got depth when you add all the other names too, but I love the competition."

Apparently, so does Erlin.

"It's definitely a motivator," Erlin said. "I want to come into Spring Training ready to go and play a full season. We have a lot of great arms and I feel like the team is going to be good for a long time."

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