SAN FRANCISCO -- Over the weekend, the Padres called on their bullpen for 16 innings during a pair of extra-inning games against the Dodgers at Petco Park. More than anything else, they needed length from Drew Pomeranz Monday in San Francisco.
As he's done so frequently this season, Pomeranz delivered.
The renaissance season for the Padres' southpaw continued, as Pomeranz lowered his ERA to 1.70 with seven shutout innings in a 1-0 loss to San Francisco. Only Randy Jones and Jake Peavy -- a pair of Padres Cy Young Award winners -- have posted lower marks through their first nine starts.
"Obviously, in the back of my mind, we were thin in the bullpen and everything," Pomeranz said. "So I was just trying to get out there and limit my number of pitches each inning so I could stay out there a little longer."
Pomeranz has been brilliant for most of the season, but the one area in which he's struggled at times has been with his efficiency. But aside from a somewhat shaky third inning, Pomeranz was very good in that regard Monday.
Pomeranz's four strikeouts represented his lowest total this season. But he more than atoned for that with some very weak contact. Following a pair of hits in the first inning, the Giants did not record a single knock against Pomeranz and only managed to hit one ball to the outfield -- a weak pop to center by Brandon Belt in the seventh.
Pomeranz threw 111 pitches -- 68 for strikes -- and finished with seven shutout frames for just the second time in his career.
"That's my goal anyways -- to get deeper into these games, and especially so tonight with that long game yesterday," Pomeranz said. "I did pretty good. I was trying to keep us in good position to win the game. We just couldn't get anything off [Giants starter Johnny] Cueto."
Indeed, Cueto was equally brilliant, and he was rewarded for it with a victory when Hunter Pence's ninth-inning popup dropped in between Matt Kemp and Alexi Amarista in short right field.
Despite Pomeranz's brilliance this season, the Padres have won just four of his nine starts. But that's certainly no indictment on the 27-year-old left-hander -- who could very well be making an early claim for an All-Star spot at his home ballpark this summer.
Not bad for a pitcher who entered Spring Training apparently ticketed for the bullpen, before winning a starting job in the final week of camp.
"He was great," Green said of Pomeranz's performance Monday. "Seven very strong innings -- there's nothing more you can ask for. [He] matched Cueto pitch for pitch and gave us an opportunity to win the baseball game. That's what you want out of your starting pitching.
"We couldn't, across the board, be more pleased with the way our starters are throwing the baseball."
AJ Cassavell covers the Padres for MLB.com. Follow him on Twitter @ajcassavell. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.