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Padres activate Quentin, win fourth straight

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The San Diego Padres' fortunes continued to rise this week as slugger Carlos Quentin finally made his season debut and the team won its fourth straight.

Quentin was not a major contributor Tuesday as he came off the disabled list (bone bruise in knee) but his presence in the cleanup spot may have been comforting as the Pads beat Cincinnati 2-1 on Chase Headley's ninth-inning home run off reliever Aroldis Chapman's 99-mph fastball.

Quentin's brooding presence takes the pressure off Headley and Jedd Gyorko to fill in as cleanup hitters, and has a solidifying effect on the entire lineup.

After scoring early and often in three consecutive weekend wins over Miami, the Padres didn't exactly pound out hits Tuesday at Cincinnati's Great American Ballpark. White-hot Seth Smith, the National League's player of the week (he hit .556 over seven games), had a double and single and scored the Padres' first run on Gyorko's sacrifice fly (aided by a Quentin groundout that moved Smith to third). Smith is batting .336.

Headley's home run, his fourth, was San Diego's only other hit off the Reds. Still, it was good enough for the win, pulling the Padres to within two games of .500. Headley, himself recently returned to the lineup (calf injury), has homered twice during the win streak and has finally raised his average to .200.

The return of Quentin puts the Padres at full strength for the first time this season, with Cameron Maybin manning center field after spending the first month on the DL (ruptured biceps tendon). Maybin, batting .341, has given both the offense and defense a boost.

Manager Bud Black said Quentin "is a huge piece for us. If we can keep him in there, keep him healthy, it really makes everybody else's job easier."

The deadpan Quentin said of his return, "It feels good just to be back in the lineup."

Since joining the Padres in 2012, Quentin has never played more than 86 games a year, and has needed three knee surgeries. But there's no denying the dynamic effect he has when he's swinging a bat. In 2012 he hit 16 home runs in 86 games. Last year he managed 13 homers in 82 games before being shut down for surgery.

"The key for all of is to be healthy," Quentin told reporters Tuesday.

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