Pence homers in Giants' 7-3 win over Padres
Hunter Pence had a monumental day for the San Francisco Giants - and now it appears the veteran outfielder is on the verge of getting the contract extension he's been seeking all season.
Pence hit his career-best 26th home run not long after being honored with the 2013 ''Willie Mac Award'' given out annually to the most inspirational Giants player. Later he and team president Larry Baer met in San Francisco's clubhouse for more than 15 minutes discussing a potential new deal.
''They're about to get back to me so we're either really close or really far away,'' Pence said after the Giants beat the San Diego Padres 7-3 on Friday night. ''I will know shortly. We'll just say we were talking.''
The 30-year-old outfielder is set to become a free agent this offseason and has already stated his desire to return to San Francisco.
It appears to be a foregone conclusion that he'll be back, especially after the Giants flew in his mother and brother to attend the pregame ceremony honoring him with an award named for Hall of Famer Willie McCovey.
Manager Bruce Bochy, for one, would like to see Pence return.
''He's one of the more inspirational players that you can have on the club,'' Bochy said. ''He's full-throttle, the way he plays the game. He hit a home run on a big day for him.''
Pence's home run, one of three hit by the Giants, backed an uneven outing by Ryan Vogelsong.
Vogelsong (4-6) gave up a pair of runs in the first three innings and had to pitch out of a two-on, two-out jam in the sixth to win for the first time since Aug. 25.
Brandon Belt and Juan Perez also homered for San Francisco in the first game of the season-ending series between two teams battling to stay out of the cellar in the NL West.
Chris Denorfia singled and scored twice for the Padres, who lost for the sixth time in seven games at San Francisco's waterfront ballpark.
''We were still in the ballgame at 5-2,'' San Diego manager Bud Black said. ''But there was a breakdown there with the bullpen at the end when they got some more runs off our younger relievers.''
Pence homered off San Diego starter Burch Smith to cap a three-run third inning. Belt also homered in the third while Perez hit his first career home run in the second.
Vogelsong did just enough to make it hold up.
The Giants' right-hander, who missed more than 2 1/2 months after breaking bones near the pinkie of his pitching hand on a swing in May, allowed five hits over six innings. He walked four and struck out three.
''I've had a hard time getting comfortable with my delivery and I've been fighting it all year,'' Vogelsong said. ''Tonight was better most of the time. I'm a lot closer than I probably think I am.''
San Francisco is trying to close out its season on a strong note after struggling nearly all season. The defending World Series champs (75-85) are guaranteed of their worst finish since going 72-90 in 2008.
The Padres had won two straight before falling into a tie with the Giants with two games left. Both teams are 17 games out of first place in the NL West.
Smith (1-3) allowed six runs and eight hits over 5 2-3 innings. The San Diego rookie walked three and struck out eight, giving him 42 in 31 innings.
Tommy Medica's RBI single in the first inning gave the Padres an early lead.
San Francisco answered with three home runs to go in front for good.
Perez's home run, a two-out line drive to left after Pablo Sandoval walked earlier in the inning, made it 2-1.
After Denorfia walked and scored in the third to tie it, Belt hit a two-run shot in the bottom of the inning. Two batters later, Pence snapped an 0-for-27 skid with his solo blast to give the Giants a 5-2 lead.
Gregor Blanco's bases-loaded walk in the sixth forced in Brandon Crawford to make it 6-2.
San Diego loaded the bases in the eighth but reliever Santiago Casilla struck out Jesus Guzman then got Nick Hundley to ground into a 1-2-3 double play.
Pinch-hitter Logan Forsythe homered in the ninth off Javier Lopez for San Diego.
NOTES: Blanco was thrown out twice trying to extend hits in the first and eighth, and was picked off base in the fourth. ... The Giants have 105 home runs this season. They had 103 for all of 2012. ... San Francisco trainer Dave Groeschner said 2B Marco Scutaro had successful surgery to put a pin in his left pinkie. ... Padres closer Huston Street was given the night off. ... San Diego backup catcher Rene Rivera has left the team to join his wife in Puerto Rico for the birth of twins. ... Because of a day game after a night game, Chris Robinson will start at catcher for the Padres on Saturday. ... Members of the America's Cup winning Oracle Team USA attended the game.