LOS ANGELES (AP) — Eric Stults is having quite a month of August and going against his old team didn't hurt either.
The left-hander allowed one run on four hits in five innings of the San Diego Padres' 4-1 win over the NL West-leading Los Angeles Dodgers on Wednesday night.
"I'm just executing pitches a little bit better," Stults said. "Early on I was giving up a lot of extra-base hits, a lot of home runs, whereas now I've limited the damage more to just singles."
Stults improved to 3-0 with a 1.46 ERA in four starts this month while picking up just his second road win of the season.
"He knows how to feed off hitters' aggressiveness," Dodgers catcher A.J. Ellis said. "Now you see he's pitching free and easy. He's pitching with a lot of confidence."
Stults (6-13) struck out five and walked one. The Dodgers came into the game with a 20-10 record against left-handed opponents, but Stults did just enough against the team he pitched for from 2006-09.
"He made a conscious effort to tweak his delivery a little bit, especially out of the windup, and a little minor adjustment out of the stretch — sort of an upbeat, momentum-building delivery," Padres manager Bud Black said. "That's helped his conviction with the fastball."
Kevin Quackenbush pitched the ninth to earn his first major league save. He started a 1-2-3 putout to end the game.
"It's a pretty awesome feeling," he said. "I got a couple in the minor leagues, but this first one in the big leagues is always going to be special to me. I was a little more nervous than I have been in previous outings."
Alexi Amarista had two hits, drove in a run, walked and stole a base, Rymer Liriano went 2 for 3 with a walk and two runs scored, and Seth Smith went 2 for 5 for the Padres, who pounded out 11 hits in ending a two-game skid.
Roberto Hernandez (7-9) gave up four runs and eight hits in five innings. He struck out two and walked two in his 200th career start and first as a member of the home team at Dodger Stadium. He was acquired from Philadelphia earlier this month.
"I didn't feel it was my best," Hernandez said through a translator. "I got behind in the count. I just wasn't able to get in a rhythm. I was getting outside of the zone a little bit."
Just like a night earlier, the Padres took an early 3-0 lead. In the second, Amarista singled in their first run. Stults followed with a bases-loaded RBI single, and Liriano scored on a throwing error by left fielder Scott Van Slyke, who twice bobbled the ball trying to control it.
The Dodgers closed to 3-1 in the third on Matt Kemp's sacrifice fly.
Yangervis Solarte made it 4-1 with a sacrifice fly in the fourth.
Amarista raised his batting average to .333 in 12 games against the Dodgers this season. He's even better at Dodger Stadium (.365) with two doubles, a homer and nine RBI in 21 career games. Smith boosted his average to .407 with a double, four homers and five RBI in 11 games against L.A.
Dee Gordon stole his 57th base in the eighth, moving into sole possession of seventh on the Dodgers' single-season steals list, passing Steve Sax who had 56 in 1983.
Padres outfielder Cameron Maybin was reinstated from the restricted list, having served a 25-game suspension for testing positive for an amphetamine. He had said his failed test was a result of a change in the medication he was using to treat attention deficit disorder. Maybin entered as a defensive replacement in the ninth. To make room on the roster, the Padres optioned infielder Jace Peterson to Triple-A El Paso and designated pitcher Bobby LaFromboise for assignment.
Padres: Closer Joaquin Benoit has been bothered by shoulder problems, and Black said it makes sense to consider putting him on the DL. "We still have another day or two to assess this and see if Joaquin responds to treatment," he said. "If we can hold off on that, then we win."
Dodgers: Pitcher Zack Greinke has experienced elbow discomfort similar to what he had last season. A MRI didn't show any damage, but the team wants to be cautious. "It's something that comes and goes," Greinke said. "I expect to pitch at a hundred percent level, but I don't expect to feel a hundred percent."
Padres: Tyson Ross (11-11, 2.70 ERA) takes the mound in the series finale. The right-hander has 13 starts of six or more innings pitched while allowing one run or fewer earned runs, tied for the most such starts with Adam Wainwright of St. Louis.
Dodgers: Clayton Kershaw (14-3, 1.86) starts in place of Greinke, who will be pushed back to Saturday against the Mets, with Dan Haren going on Friday.