Black -- a former Major League pitcher -- knew the feeling right away when he saw the look in Stults' eyes. Stults wasn't coming out of that game and was going to finish what he started.
"How do you feel," Black said.
"I got this," Stults replied.
"You got this?"
That was all the convincing Black needed.
Stults pumped his fist after striking out the next batter, Josh Rutledge, on his 122nd pitch of the night, sealing a 2-1 victory for the Padres and bringing a season long 10-game losing streak to a merciful end in front of 22,733 fans at Petco Park.
"I felt good. That's probably the highest pitch-count I've had in a long time. But my pitches still felt sharp," Stults said.
Stults had cruised through eight not-so-stressful shutout innings where he only allowed two hits before the Rockies' offense produced a run in the ninth. Wilin Rosario doubled and scored on a two-out pinch-hit bloop single into right field by Nolan Arenado.
Had Arenado hit the ball hard, Black said he may not have allowed Stults to finish his second complete game of the season.
Stults allowed four hits and one run while striking out five.
"He's mixing speeds, keeping guys off balance and making good pitches with his fastball," said center fielder Will Venable. "It's just nice to watch him do his thing."
In Stults' last two starts he surrendered a combined 10 runs, 9 earned, on 16 hits in eight innings and was tagged for two losses against Miami and Boston. Before that, the left-hander has arguably been the Padres best pitcher this season and was coming off a six-start stretch where he was 2-1 with a 1.83 ERA.
He returned to form on Tuesday, when the Padres so desperately needed him to be an ace. The Rockies were held without a hit until Rutledge led off the fifth inning with an infield single.
"My best way to put it is he throws strikes, throws all his pitches, changes speeds a lot and sometimes when you get a pitcher like that, you get over-antsy and want to get the big hit," said Rockies first baseman Jordan Pacheco. "Everybody gets over-antsy and tries to do too much, instead of just putting the bat on the ball."
The Padres got on the board in the third inning when Everth Cabrera scored from first base on a triple by Alexi Amarista, to give the Padres a 1-0 lead. They threatened for more, with runners on first and third with one out, but failed to score another run off Rockies starter Jhoulys Chacin.
Chacin allowed one run on five hits in six innings, walking two and striking out four.
The Padres also had a chance to break the game open in the seventh inning against reliever Wilton Lopez, but Will Venable was thrown out at the plate on a squeeze bunt attempt by Stults.
Amarista then delivered again with a run-scoring single to left field to give the Padres a 2-0 lead. He has now driven in five runs over his last three games, after he only had four RBIs in his previous 35.
Lopez bounced back and retired the next two batters to minimize the damage.
That was more than enough for Stults, and the Padres improved their record to 3-9 against the Rockies this season.
Stults was the starter when the terrible stretch began on June 29th. On that day, he turned in his shortest outing of the season, lasting just 3 2/3 innings.
On Tuesday, Stults finished what he started.