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Padres Prevail In NL West Faceoff

The fireworks came early for the San Diego Padres Friday night.

Ruben Rivera's three-run homer capped a seven-run eighth inning and the Padres beat the San Francisco Giants 10-3 in an NL West showdown in front of 60,789, the biggest baseball crowd ever in San Diego.

"We have a lot of heart on this team," said Greg Vaughn, who contributed an RBI double to the winning rally.

And it didn't hurt to be playing a division rival in front of the biggest crowd in the majors this year, drawn by a postgame fireworks show. The Padres sold seats that normally remain empty in expanded Qualcomm Stadium.

It was the fifth time this year that the Padres drew more than 50,000 and won in their final at-bat.

"You want to do well in front of the big crowd," Vaughn said. "You want to bring them back. You want to have the home-field advantage."

The Padres, who trailed 3-0 after a two-run homer by Barry Bonds and a solo shot by Rey Sanchez, broke a first-place tie with the Giants.

"We're not sending a message," said Vaughn. "We're just trying to win. We want to put some space between us and them."

The crowd got what it paid for when the Padres sent 11 batters to the plate in the eighth and scored the seven runs on five hits, a walk and an error to win their fifth straight.

The Giants' bullpen came in with the best ERA in the majors, 2.07, but broke down both pitching and fielding.

Quilvio Veras, who scored the tying run in the seventh on Ken Caminiti's double, singled off Jim Poole for the go-ahead run with none out in the eighth. Veras' third straight single scored Chris Gomez, who opened the eighth with a base hit off Steve Reed (2-1). Reed fielded Mandy Romero's bunt, wheeled and threw wide of shortstop Rich Aurilla covering second, allowing Gomez to take third.

"I didn't really set myself really well," Reed said. "I probably had more time than I thought. But the throw tailed off. It's totally my fault. It's frustrating in a big game like this. I just stunk."

Vaughn added an RBI double and Wally Joyner hit a bases-loaded, two-run single, the first time in three opportunities that the Padres scored with the bases loaded.

Rivera homered to left with one out, his second of the year.

Dan Miceli (6-2) pitched two-thirds of an inning for the win.

Bonds homered to right on a 1-1 pitch from left-hander Sterling Hitchcock with one out in the fifth to give San Francisco a 3-0 lead.

Bonds has more homers, 48, and RBIs, 118, against the Padres than against any other team. He has 26 homers and 58 RBIs at Qualcomm Stadium. Bonds had left Wednesday's game against Seattle with tightness in his left calf after being hit by a pitch.

Sanchez homered with two out in the second to givSan Francisco a 1-0 lead. It was his first homer in 177 at-bats dating to Aug. 20 at Anaheim against another lefty, Mark Langston, who's now with San Diego.

Carlos Hernandez hit his third homer with one out in the fifth to pull the Padres to 3-1. San Diego then loaded the bases against starter Kirk Rueter with two outs, only to see third baseman Bill Mueller backhand Caminiti's smash and beat Steve Finley to the bag.

Tony Gwynn, who left Monday night's game against Cincinnati with a strained left calf, had a pinch-hit sacrifice fly in the sixth to bring the Padres within 3-2.

Rueter allowed two runs and eight hits in 5 1-3 innings and Hitchcock gave up three runs and seven hits in six innings.

Notes: The previous biggest crowd in Padres history was 60,230 against Anaheim on Aug. 29, a game also followed by a fireworks show. ... Bonds tied Johnny Bench for 30th on the all-time list with his 389th homer. ... Bonds' 26 homers at Qualcomm match his 26 at Montreal's Olympic Stadium, his highest total in an opponent's park. ... Padres manager Bruce Bochy expects Gwynn to start Saturday night. Team trainers decided Gwynn needed one more day of rest, which is why he was available only for pinch-hitting duty. ... Padres left-handed reliever Roberto Ramirez, reacquired on Tuesday from the Mexico City Reds, made his major league debut and threw 1 1-3 perfect innings, with one strikeout. ... Brian Johnson's career-high 12-game hitting streak ended.

©1998 The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed

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