Pitching stands out during Padres' 9-5 run

Pomeranz, Shields, bullpen combine on 2 straight shutouts

Bill Center, longtime sportswriter for U-T San Diego, is an employee of the Padres.

Despite a rash of infield injuries that has a Triple-A outfielder starting at second base, the Padres have won nine of their last 14 games and are riding a three-game winning streak going into Friday night at Milwaukee.

That winning streak, of course, started with Wednesday's doubleheader sweep at Wrigley Field against a Cubs team that entered the day 25-6. It continued Thursday night in Milwaukee as the Padres completed their first set of back-to-back shutouts since July 2014.

The Padres' run has been driven by pitching. The staff ERA after the season's first 22 games (7-15) was 4.91. During the 9-5 run, the staff ERA is 2.54, and the bullpen ERA is 1.94. Padres relievers have worked 10 straight scoreless innings, including seven in Wednesday's doubleheader sweep.

The Padres have also had 10 quality starts in their last 14 games.

Right-hander James Shields allowed seven hits and a walk with nine strikeouts in seven scoreless innings on Thursday night in Milwaukee. Shields has allowed one run or fewer in three of his last four starts with an ERA of 2.08 (six runs allowed on 24 hits and 12 walks against 24 strikeouts in 26 innings).

Left-hander Drew Pomeranz worked six scoreless innings Wednesday night against the Cubs and has worked 15 straight scoreless innings. His ERA over his last three starts is 0.50 and his season ERA of 1.80 ranks third in the National League behind Jake Arrieta and Clayton Kershaw.

As for the bullpen, right-handed closer Fernando Rodney has 10 saves in as many opportunities and a 0.00 ERA after 14 innings in 14 appearances. He has allowed one unearned run on seven hits and six walks with 13 strikeouts. Left-hander Ryan Buchter has a 0.54 ERA after 17 appearances and picked up his first save Thursday. He has allowed one run on seven hits and eight walks with 23 strikeouts in 17 2/3 innings. Setup right-hander Brandon Maurer has made nine straight scoreless appearances, allowing three hits and five walks with 14 strikeouts in 8 2/3 innings to lower his ERA from 7.00 to 3.57. Right-hander Kevin Quackenbush has allowed two hits and no walks with four strikeouts in nine straight scoreless appearances covering 7 1/3 innings. His ERA has dropped from 7.71 to 4.32.

Notes from the scorebook

• Since losing starters Yangeris Solarte and Cory Spangenberg and first backup Alexi Amarista, Padres infielders -- other than shortstop Alexei Ramirez and first baseman Will Myers -- have hit a combined .188 with a .278 on-base percentage and a .596 OPS. Jose Pirela (.190), Adam Rosales (.189), Jemile Weeks (.140) and Brett Wallace (.250) have gone 33-for-176 with nine doubles, a triple and four homers for 20 runs scored and 16 RBIs with 62 strikeouts.

• After a 6-for-15 start with a double and a homer with three RBIs in the first four games of May, right fielder Matt Kemp has gone 3-for-31 with no extra-base hits and three RBIs to drop his batting average for the month to .196. Kemp hit .186 last May with no homers and is a career .255 hitter in May with half as many homers as any other month.

• Catcher Derek Norris was in an 8-for-20 run with a double and a homer for four runs scored and a RBI before getting hit on the left hand by a pitch Thursday night. Backup Christian Bethancourt, meanwhile, is on a 4-for-10 run with a double, two homers, three RBIs and three runs scored.