Triumphant return: 40,000 fans treated to walk-off Padres win for the ages

Padres

SAN DIEGO — The San Diego Padres thrilled a crowd of over 40,000 fans with an iconic victory Thursday night: a come-from-behind, walk-off victory in their triumphant return to full capacity at Petco Park.

Victor Caratini hit a two-run, game-ending homer two batters after Eric Hosmer hit a tying, two-run homer for the Padres, beating the Cincinnati Reds in a 6-4 thriller before the first sellout crowd at Petco Park since 2019.

Fernando Tatis Jr. and Manny Machado also homered on what was billed as “San Diego’s Opening Day” to celebrate the ballpark returning to full capacity following the state’s reopening plan that went into effect Tuesday.

But the Padres had to work for this one after the Reds rallied for four runs in the ninth against closer Mark Melancon, including a go-ahead, two-run homer by rookie Jonathan India.

Machado drew a leadoff walk against Ryan Hendrix and Hosmer homered with one out. Amir Garrett (0-2) came on and allowed Jake Cronenworth’s single and then Caratini’s shot into the left-field seats. It was Hosmer’s sixth homer and Caratini’s fifth.

The Padres won for just the second time in nine games. They were coming off a 1-5 trip to New York and Colorado, including a three-game sweep by the Rockies, that manager Jayce Tingler described as “just terrible.”

The Reds saw their six-game winning streak snapped.

The Padres took a 2-0 lead into the ninth after Tatis and Machado homered off Wade Miley. Melancon was one out away from his big league-leading 20th save before he melted down against the red-hot Reds.

Joey Votto started the Reds’ rally with a leadoff single and Tucker Barnhart doubled. Kyle Farmer had an RBI groundout before pinch-hitter Tyler Stephenson tied it with a two-out single.

India homered to give the Reds a 4-2 lead and quiet the crowd. It was his sixth.

Pierce Johnson (2-2) got the win.

Miley, who threw his first career no-hitter at Cleveland on May 7, had frustrated the struggling Padres until Tatis hit a high-arcing shot that just cleared the wall in left-center for San Diego’s first hit with two outs in the sixth. The star shortstop dropped his bat and began his trot after sending the crowed of 40,362 into a frenzy.

It was the 22nd for Tatis, tying his career high set as a rookie in 2019 and matching Vladimir Guerrero Jr. for the major league lead. Tatis was limited to 84 games as a rookie due to injuries.

Machado hit a monster shot into the second deck in left-center off Miley leading off the seventh, his 10th.

Joe Musgrove, who threw the first no-hitter in the history of his hometown Padres on April 9 at Texas, had been in line for the victory before Melancon’s meltdown.

The Padres treated this game like a real opening day by hanging bunting and introducing both teams before the game. A giant American flag was unfurled by 275 U.S. Navy sailors prior to the national anthem and there was a flyover of F/A-18 Hornets from Marine Corps Air Station Miramar.

Fans were no doubt a bit nervous as Miley retired 13 straight batters from the first to fifth inning. Until Tatis’ home run, the only baserunners Miley allowed were on walks to Tatis in the first and Cronenworth in the fifth.

Musgrove held the Reds to four singles in seven innings, struck out two and walked three.

Miley allowed two runs and four hits seven-plus innings, struck out five and walked two.

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