PITTSBURGH -- Padres center fielder Tony Gwynn wasn't about to anoint his diving catch of Pedro Alvarez's line drive in the eighth inning on Saturday his career highlight as far as catches go.

But it's right up there.

Gwynn said that he felt like he topped the effort against the Giants.

"Pablo [Sandoval] hit a ball in the gap, a low liner, that I got my glove just low enough to catch," Gwynn said.

Gwynn has made a habit of big catches this season. Gwynn currently has the second-best UZR rating (ultimate zone rating) in the Major Leagues, 12.3. He trails Carl Crawford of the Rays (15.2).

UZR is the number of runs above or below average a fielder is in range runs, outfield arm runs, double play runs and error runs combined.

Gwynn said his preference is not to leave his feet.

"I've done enough of those," he said. "I really don't want to dive. There is a less risk of hurting yourself if you don't."

San Diego manager Bud Black was certainly impressed by Gwynn's catch.

"Another highlight-reel catch," Black said. "That was a tough one. It looked like it was hooking or knuckling."

Padres ink versatile infielder Green

PITTSBURGH -- The Padres added organizational depth on Saturday when they signed Nick Green, a middle infielder with a .237 Major League average but someone is known for his defensive play.

Green, who signed a Minor League contract and is not on the 40-man roster, reported to Triple-A Portland on Saturday and went 1-for-3 with an RBI.

Green, 31, was designated for assignment by the Blue Jays on July 17. He signed a Minor League contract with the Dodgers in the offseason. He became a free agent in June when he refused a Minor League assignment.

The Blue Jays signed him on June 18. Green had 21 at-bats in 14 games between the Blue Jays and Dodgers this season.

Green's best season came in his rookie season with the Braves in 2004 when he hit .273. He has also played for the Rays, Yankees, Mariners and Red Sox.

Thatcher thriving out of Padres' bullpen

PITTSBURGH -- Reliever Joe Thatcher struck out the only batter he faced on Saturday, setting down Garrett Jones with a runner on third base in a game the Padres led by two runs at the time.

Thatcher has been especially effective this season. After Saturday's game, his ERA stood at 1.80 in 20 innings. Thatcher was especially tough on left-handed batters, holding them to a .152 average.

Oddly enough, Thatcher was allowing the same average (.152) with the same amount of hits (5-for-33) against right-handers, as well.

"It's basically the same approach, making good pitches. I feel I have enough confidence to get righties out, too," Thatcher said.

This is certainly a far cry from last season, when righties hit .267 against him and even further away from 2008 when he allowed right-handed batters to hit .370 against him.

"Ever since the middle of last year, I've been feeling good mechanically," Thatcher said. "It's all come together."

Padres well ahead of pace set last year

PITTSBURGH -- When the Padres secured their 57th victory of the season on Saturday it put them five weeks ahead of their 2009 pace.

The Padres didn't win their 57th game last season until Aug. 31. That victory brought their record to 57-76.

The Padres went into their series finale against the Pirates on Sunday 18 games over the .500 mark. That's their high-water mark this season and the most games they have been above .500 since Sept. 28, 2007 (89-71).

That season, the first for manager Bud Black, the Padres needed one victory in their final three games -- including the Wild Card play-in game in Colorado -- to advance to the postseason.

But the Padres lost the final two games of the regular season in Milwaukee, then lost Game No. 163 to the Rockies.