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CIN@SD: Cabrera cranks a walk-off single in the ninth

SAN DIEGO -- Yasmani Grandal hasn't been in the Major Leagues for even a week, yet the Padres catcher stood in front of television cameras late Thursday and professed a solemn vow to do his part to keep the team's six-game winning streak rolling along.

"It's going to be exciting," he said.

Based on results alone, it already has been.

Grandal's double to start the ninth inning helped set the table for the Padres' 2-1 victory over the Reds in front of a crowd of 25,181 at Petco Park, as many of the young players on the roster -- who are short on service time but certainly not on confidence -- continued to contribute to this blissful run.

This is certainly a far cry from April and most of May when the Padres (34-50) found themselves buried in the National League West under a heavy dusting of under-performance and injuries.

Many of the young players like Grandal and Logan Forsythe, who tied the game with a pinch-hit home run in the eighth inning, weren't around for that kind of misery. But, as third baseman Chase Headley said, it's a good thing they are here now.

"If you missed the first month and a half, good for you," Headley said, smiling. "But these guys have come up and are confident -- instead of expecting it to go the other way. Those guys have come up and really helped us."

Grandal, who has five extra-base hits in his first seven games, doubled to start the ninth inning off Reds relief pitcher Logan Ondrusek (3-2). The Reds (44-38) then decided to intentionally walk Yonder Alonso to get to Cameron Maybin.

Maybin, who was asked to move the runners along with a sacrifice bunt, did more than that. He topped a ball off the plate that went for an infield single to load the bases. The Reds countered with Sam LeCure, but Everth Cabrera jumped on a first-pitch fastball, sending it to the gap in left center field for a game-winning single.

"We're getting some timely hitting from some of these fresh faces," said Padres reliever Huston Street, who improved to 2-0 by tossing a scoreless top of the ninth inning. "We have got some good, young players on this team."

The old ones aren't so bad, either.

Take Padres starting pitcher Edinson Volquez, who faced his former team. On the other side, it was Mat Latos facing his old team. The two were part of the five-player deal in December that give the Reds the front-line starting pitcher they wanted while giving the Padres promising young players, such as Grandal and Alonso, in addition to Volquez.

Volquez, as he's done in a handful of starts this season, scuffled with his command early in the game. He allowed two baserunners in the first inning and walked Jay Bruce to begin the second inning. Then, two batters later, Chris Heisey tripled to the gap in right-center field for a 1-0 lead.

In the fourth inning, Volquez allowed a leadoff single to Brandon Phillips. Two batters later, Todd Frazier also singled, sending Phillips scampering to third base. But Volquez got out of the mess as he got Heisey to bounce into a double play to end the inning.

But, like he has done several times in 2012, Volquez, seemingly teetering with a high pitch count to boot, got a better grasp of his secondary pitches, like his curveball and changeup. He worked efficiently and threw more strikes early in the count.

"I've never seen him commanding both of his breaking pitches at the bottom of the zone like he was," Heisey said. "When he does that, throwing 95 mph and then throwing an 83 mph changeup at the knees, which he did a bunch of times tonight especially to right-handers, he was on tonight for sure."

Volquez allowed one run on five hits over seven innings. He walked three and struck out 10 while he threw a career-high 127 pitches.

"It was a classic case of where he got stronger as the game went on," Padres manager Bud Black said. "I thought he threw better from his 90th-pitch on."

Latos allowed no runs on four hits in seven innings. He walked two and struck out eight and was in line for his eighth victory of the season before Forsythe stepped in and hit a home run off Sean Marshall in the eighth inning to tie the game.

"You just hate to have two hours of work erased in minutes," said Reds manager Dusty Baker. "It's another tough loss. We have to start winning those close ballgames."

The Padres have been doing just that, thanks in part to the influx of young players like Forsythe, Alonso, Alexi Amarista -- who extended his hitting streak to nine games -- and Grandal. All but Alonso weren't on the Opening Day roster.

But all figure to play prominent roles moving forward, as the team nears the All-Star break with an eye on a better second half.

"The level of baseball we're playing now is crisper," Street said. "I think I read the other day that Buddy said we're playing better fundamentally. I think that's a good way to put it. And I think the young guys we have can contribute."

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