D-backs’ offense can’t solve soft-tossing Stults

SAN DIEGO — Leadoff hitter Gerardo Parra’s stinging double to right-center field got the Diamondbacks off to a fast start Friday, but that is about where it ended. The D-backs got their only hits in the first and the ninth innings, and both were against the same pitcher, never a good sign.

So Jamie Moyer pitch-alike Eric Stults did what few have done this month, silencing a D-backs offense that had averaged almost six runs a game in June in the Padres’ 2-1 victory at Petco Park.

Stults has the slow, slower, slowest approach that kept Moyer in the league until he was 49 years old, and he limited the D-backs to a leadoff double by Parra (he scored on Cody Ross’ sacrifice fly) and a one-out single by Willie Bloomquist in the ninth.

“I watched Jamie Moyer do that for a lot of years,” said Bloomquist, who was left at first when Stults finished his third career complete game by getting Paul Goldschmidt on a deep fly to right field and Ross on a groundout to third.

“He throws … I mean, call a spade a spade … below the average hitting speed. You don’t see that kind of stuff every day, so you really have to attempt to adjust your approach. Hats off to him to finding that sort of niche and being able to expose guys with it. Just when you think you might be getting a heater, here comes another dead-fish changeup.

“It’s tough to change your approach, but if you don’t, that’s what happens.”

Stults’ fastball tops out in the mid-80s, but it contrasts nicely with a looping 61 mph curve that keeps opponents off-balance.

“He uses the hitters’ energy against them,” said D-backs acting manager Alan Trammell, who took over while Kirk Gibson served his one-game suspension announced earlier Friday.

“They get guys to get off-balance, thinking at some particular time they are going to sneak a fastball. And occasionally they do. But most of the time, percentages say they are not, and he didn’t. He seems to have found it.”

The D-backs had only four base runners, and Logan Forsythe’s two-out, bases-loaded single in the sixth inning drove in two runs and ruined a return to form by Trevor Cahill, who struck out 10 in 5 2/3 innings. Cahill, who had given up 13 runs in his previous two starts, cruised until he walked Alexi Amarista, hit Chase Headley and was victimized by a chopping infield single to third base by Carlos Quentin to load the bases.

Cahill struck out the next two batters before Forsythe hit a high, 3-2 fastball into left-center for a 2-1 lead.

“Leadoff walks are usually going to come back to haunt you, and then I tried to make too good of a pitch” to Headley, Cahill said. “Tried to make it too nasty. I did the best I could to get out of it but left one up.

“It’s tough. Just one pitch away, I guess. It definitely hurts.”

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