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Padres closer Heath Bell bolted to the mound from center field. He shouted as a Pirates runner sprinted toward third base. He jumped in the air when his catcher gunned him down and then jabbed his catcher's chest when their night's work was complete.
Bell is all action, all the time on a baseball field.
On Tuesday night, he tied a franchise record because he once sat still.
With help from Rob Johnson's chase-and-throw on a ball in the dirt, Bell matched a team mark owned by baseball's all-time saves leader Trevor Hoffman, recording his 41st consecutive save in a 6-5 win at Petco Park.
The streak is tied for the fourth longest in MLB history.
“I just watched him pitch every time,” Bell said of Hoffman, whom he succeeded as closer in 2009 after spending two years as his set-up man. “He probably thought I was stalking him. I was always staring at him ... I probably couldn't be here, doing the things that I'm doing, if it wasn't for just sitting and watching him.”
Against the Pirates, Bell watched Johnson work his magic.
Before spoiling Brandon Wood's advance attempt with one out, Johnson boosted the Padres in the eighth, breaking the game's 5-5 tie with a solo home run to left field.
The clutch plays earned him his first career face-full of shaving cream, courtesy of his teammates.
Inside the clubhouse afterward, a smiling Johnson, who still had shaving cream along the lower ridges of his chin, said of the two plays, his favorite was the ninth-inning throw capped by third baseman Chase Headley's quick tag.
“Obviously, a home run is huge,” Johnson said, “but as a catcher, I just get a lot more joy out of throwing guys out ... With Heath getting his club-tying record, it was a pretty cool feeling to be a batterymate of his. We needed that.”
Winners of three of their last four, the Padres (12-18) jumpstarted their evening with the most unlikely of sparks.
Trailing 2-0, pitcher Mat Latos hammered a Jeff Karstens pitch off the second deck in left field. It was the first Petco Park home run by a Padres pitcher since the ballpark opened in 2005.
Reserve second baseman Eric Patterson followed two at-bats later with a home run to center, a positive short-term spin to a negative development.
Orlando Hudson, an invaluable veteran defender who leads the team in on-base percentage and steals, grabbed his right hamstring after legging out a first-inning double. The injury was ruled a strain, and he is officially listed as day-to-day with an update expected Wednesday.
But this was Bell's night, even if he took every chance to deflect the spotlight.
“You kind of just do what you see, and I saw (Hoffman) for two years,” Bell said. “He's No. 1. He'll always be No. 1. I'm happy with being No. 2 in San Diego.”
After Tuesday, according to one team list, they're both No. 1.