San Diego starts winning streak

San Diego starts winning streak

ST. PETERSBURG -- So much for a skid.

First, the Padres ended their season-high four-game losing streak on Wednesday with a convincing win over the Devil Rays that featured a five-run output in the first inning and another solid outing by Jake Peavy.

Then, the Padres followed their Major League-leading 10th shutout with a 7-1 victory over the Rays on Thursday at Tropicana Field in front of 19,270 in a game highlighted by Justin Germano's fifth straight win.

"[Germano] threw extremely well," said Padres manager Bud Black. "His fastball had a little more giddy-up today, for some reason. He threw good inside with his fastball and had a good breaking ball. It's more of what we've seen the entire season from him."

Germano, a 24-year-old right-hander claimed off waivers from the Phillies on March 19, matched wits with Rays starter J.P. Howell for six innings after the Padres staked him with a 1-0 lead in the first.

Germano held the Rays hitless until the fourth inning, when Brendan Harris smacked a double to center. But the young righty, who has pitched masterfully since being called up from Triple-A Portland on May 7, retired the side with a strikeout and a flyout.

He continually baffled Tampa Bay batters, striking out four while walking just one in his 86-pitch (56 strikes) outing. Germano was relieved after the sixth inning, and he watched the rest of the game next to Greg Maddux, who has been instrumental in helping the player originally drafted by the Padres in 2000 before he was traded to the Reds in 2005.

"I give a lot of credit to Maddux," said Germano, who was 1-3 in nine games (six starts) with an 8.04 ERA before returning to the Padres this year. "I've just kind of been his shadow for these past few months -- just getting whatever information I can out of him, and he comes up to me, too."

Germano has taken the advice of the four-time Cy Young Award winner to heart this season, and his performance on Thursday further exemplified his learning curve.

"He had a very solid outing," said Black. "[He was] changing speeds, locating the fastball, mixing in the curveball -- very solid."

That's exactly what he's learned from Maddux, as Germano approaches the game with more simplicity.

"After games this year, if I thought something went wrong or he did, he'll give me advice on what to do and then I'll store it in the back of my mind," said Germano. "He's told me to just keep things simple and be aggressive -- try not to get too complicated and just stick to your game plan."

Germano's game plan fit right in where the Padres needed, as they only posted one run against Howell, when Jose Cruz scored on an infield grounder by Mike Cameron that Devil Rays third baseman Akinori Iwamura was unable to handle.

Fortunately for the Padres, Howell was relieved after allowing a leadoff double to Rob Bowen in the top of the eighth.

Following Heath Bell's performance in the seventh, in which the right-hander recorded three strikeouts in a scoreless inning, the Padres added some necessary insurance in the eighth and ninth.

They put up four runs against Gary Glover that included a run-scoring single by Cruz, an RBI double by Adrian Gonzalez, an RBI single by Geoff Blum and an RBI single by Khalil Greene.

After Jonny Gomes gave the Devil Rays their first and only run of the day with a solo home run off Doug Brocail in the eighth, the Padres plated two more in the ninth. Brocail worked a scoreless ninth to give the Padres their fourth straight road series win.

Chris Girandola is a contributor to This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.