Double digits. And a half.

That’s how far out of first place the Padres -- purportedly so much better in 2014, pledged to avoid another of their slow starts – were poised to find themselves this Memorial Day. Not to mention their ninth-place station in the National League wild-card standings.

Just about then, Carlos Quentin grabbed a bat.

No doubt, the fact that an oft-injured Quentin missed the first 39 games of the season had no small part in the Padres’ failures over the first six weeks, a point that he’s now confirming time and again in limited opportunities. After hitting home runs in each of his previous two pinch-hit appearances, Quentin stepped in Sunday for Yonder Alonso against left-handed reliever James Russell, delivering the single that pushed the Padres ahead 2-1 in a 4-3 win over the Chicago Cubs.

Initially, manager Bud Black had said there was a “93.7 percent chance” that Quentin will return to the starting lineup on Monday, a number that grew to almost 100 percent by game's end. Coming off a 2-4 homestand that dropped them to 9 1/2 games back in the NL West, the Padres begin a week-long road trip to face the Diamondbacks and Chicago White Sox, who just happen to be the two ballclubs for whom Quentin played before coming home to San Diego.

"It'll be good to be back in the lineup," said Quentin. "I feel I can get back on track, get my body back into baseball shape by going out there regularly."

Since coming off the DL, only to strain a groin muscle, Quentin's basically been a temp player who makes people wonder what the Padres would be like with him on a full-time, everyday basis. The hit was his sixth -- producing his fifth RBI -- in 14 at bats this season.

"I believe no one guy defines a team," said Quentin. "I believe that a lineup like ours works with guys taking pressure off the other guy. If I was to take pressure off other guys, that's great, but I would hope they take pressure off me. Every guy in here has the ability to produce, drive in runs and do their job."