Sergio Romo said that as far back as spring training Kensuke Tanaka was a "lovable character." Tanaka showed his whimsy in his interview after sparking Thursday night's 4-2 victory against the Padres.

When Tanaka heard his first question in English, he turned not to translator Taira Uematsu standing to his left, but to Brandon Crawford on his right, expecting to hear the question in Japanese.

Laughter filled the clubhouse, a rarity in these trying times. The Giants won for the third time in 17 games as All-Star Madison Bumgarner helped break a four-game losing streak for the third consecutive start.

Pablo Sandoval hit his first home run since May 21. Tanaka drove in the tying run with a sixth-inning single against starter Jason Marquis and, with the score tied 2-2, singled to start the eighth against Luke Gregerson.

Tanaka stole second easily then scored the go-ahead run on Gregor Blanco's double that bounced over the left-field fence.

Buster Posey singled home some insurance, and Sandy Rosario and Sergio Romo protected the two-run lead after Bumgarner's seven innings.

"It's a big win for us," Romo said. "We haven't been able to play victory music too many games."

The Giants have to win every Bumgarner start because they have been losing all the others. He has the rotation's only five wins since Matt Cain beat Pittsburgh on June 13.

Bumgarner concluded his first half with a 10-5 record and 3.02 ERA after spotting the Padres two first-inning runs. Starting with the Kyle Blanks groundball that produced the second run, Bumgarner retired 16 consecutive Padres and 20 of his final 21.

Nobody can look at Bumgarner in an All-Star uniform and wince after the half he had.

Asked to assess his half, Bumgarner said he always can find room for improvement, but added, "I definitely can look back and feel pretty good about it. I've got a whole half to go, so I don't want to think too much about it."