SAN DIEGO (AP) — Eric Stults finally rewarded manager Bud Black’s faith in him by continuing the San Diego Padres recent pitching dominance.
Stults pitched seven effective innings and snapped a nine-start winless streak as he combined with two relievers to threw the Padres’ second consecutive shutout in a 2-0 win over the San Francisco Giants on Saturday.
Stults (3-11) won for the first time in nearly two months and snapped a six-start losing streak as he allowed just four hits to the scuffling Giants.
"I have been in the game long enough to understand that as a pitcher, or even as a position player, you have times where you are going to hit streaks where you are not throwing good or are not getting the breaks," Stults said. "You just have to realize that those things will hopefully pass and just keep working on things."
Stults turned in the lastest gem by a Padres staff that has been lights out over the past two weeks.
In its last 15 games, San Diego pitchers have an overall ERA of 1.54 and the team has gone 10-5. The starters own a 1.92 ERA, the lowest in baseball over that span, while the relievers have allowed just two earned runs in 35 2-3 innings for a 0.50 ERA.
Stults followed Tyson Ross’ three-hit gem in Wednesday’s 3-0 win over Cincinnati with the club’s third shutout in four games and the fourth in 10.
"There is no doubt that there is momentum in pitching," said Padres manager Bud Black. "That puts pressure on the next guy."
Alexi Amarista homered and Chase Headley drove in a run as he went 4 for 4 to give Stults and the bullpen all the runs necessary to run San Diego’s win streak to a season-high five games.
Stults won for the first time since a 9-3 victory over Miami on May 10 as he struck out six and allowed two walks.
Black revealed that he considered pulling Stults from the starting rotation during the winless drought but backed off.
"(Pitching coach) Darren (Balsley) and I talked about it but we didn’t talk about it for very long because we know what he brings in terms of the stability, the preparation," Black said. "From my perspective, there was a point where I thought it might do him some good to miss a start of two, but it never materialized."
Stults, who lost all six of his starts in the June with a 6.16 ERA, allowed just one runner to reach third base.
Stults came in with the highest ERA (5.36) in the majors but lowered it to 4.96.
Joaquin Benoit pitched a perfect eight inning and Huston Street got the final three outs for his 23rd save in as many chances to secure the four-hitter.
This was the first time the Padres faced the Giants since they were no-hit by Tim Lincecum on June 25 in San Francisco. Lincecum is scheduled to start on Sunday.
San Francisco continued to freefall with its 18th loss in 23 games. The Giants’ 5-18 record since June 9 is the worst in the majors as they have fallen out of first place in the NL West.
It was the third time in five games the Giants have been shutout.
"It’s tough," said catcher Buster Posey. "It stinks, plain and simple. We’ve got to do a better job offensively when we get a start like that. We’ve got to be able to score. There are really no excuses."
Matt Cain (1-7) pitched well but had little to show for it as he lost his fourth consecutive decision and is winless in seven starts. He allowed two runs on seven hits in 6 1-3 innings. Cain struck out six to become the fourth San Francisco pitcher to reach the 1,500-strikeout mark.
"There are a couple of pitches I’d like to have back that ended up costing us the game," Cain said. "I’m definitely not trying to hang a changeup to Amarista there. I didn’t do the job, didn’t get it done."
Notes: The last time the Padres won five straight was last season when they had a seven-game streak in June. … The Giants have scored two or fewer runs in eight of their last 11 games. … Juan Marichal, Gaylord Perry and Lincecum are the other San Francisco pitchers with 1,500 strikeouts. Cain is the eighth pitcher in Giants franchise to reach the mark . … Giants RHP Tim Hudson (7-5, 2.59 ERA) will face Padres RHP Odrisamer Despaigne (2-0, 0.66) on Saturday.