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Amarista's double puts the Padres up for good

SAN DIEGO -- Without a team but not without hope, Eric Stults enlisted his brother-in-law for a long-toss throwing session on a sunny afternoon in his hometown of Middlebury, Ind., on Wednesday.

Stults, one day removed from being designated for assignment by the White Sox, didn't have to look too far for an adequate patch of land to get his work in and to keep his arm fresh in case his phone rang with news that a club wanted him.

"I got up to about 140 feet," Stults said. "The good thing about Indiana is we have some pretty big backyards."

Stults found an even bigger one on Saturday, as Petco Park served as the backdrop of his first start with his new team, a start that saw him pitch into the seventh inning of the Padres' 3-2 victory over the Angels before a sold-out crowd of 43,427.

It's been a whirlwind week to be sure for Stults, the 32-year-old left-hander who was claimed off waivers by the Padres and flew to San Diego on Thursday. On Friday, manager Bud Black pulled him aside and informed him he would be starting Saturday against the Angels.

"I don't think San Diego was on my radar," Stults said. "I'm excited to be here and get the opportunity. My goal was to give them a quality start because I knew they had some injuries."

Some?

Stults has earned himself another start for the Padres (15-26), a team ravaged by injuries and one with four starting pitchers -- that's right, four -- currently on the disabled list. He impressed Black and teammates alike by getting 12 groundouts in 6 2/3 innings, allowing two runs on four hits.

"His changeup was really good," said Padres catcher Nick Hundley. "And his misses were good, too. He didn't get hurt by them. It was either where he wanted it or they were just off the plate."

Stults didn't get the victory on Saturday, as reliever Luke Gregerson (1-0) got the final out of the seventh inning for his first victory.

The Padres took the lead for good in the bottom of the inning as yet another newcomer -- second baseman Alexi Amarista, facing his former club, no less -- reached base for the third time, the last a slicing double to left field that scored Hundley, who opened the inning with a single off Angels pitcher Dan Haren (1-5).

Earlier in the game, Amarista -- acquired from the Angels on May 3 in a three-player deal -- reached on an infield single, advanced to second base on a Stults bunt and went to third base on a fly ball and scored on a Cameron Maybin sacrifice fly.

Want more? The Padres, who dumped second baseman Orlando Hudson on Thursday, certainly do. In the fifth inning, Amarista walked, went to second on another bunt by Stults, moved on a wild pitch and scored on a Maybin single.

"They add a different dimension," Black said of Amarista and shortstop Everth Cabrera, who was also promoted from Triple-A Tucson on Thursday.

From there, the rest was left to the Padres' bullpen, as after Gregerson left, Andrew Cashner struck out the side in the eighth inning before Dale Thayer -- closing games since May 5 when Huston Street landed on the disabled list -- struck out pinch-hitter Ryan Langerhans with the tying run on third base for his fifth save in five opportunities.

The Angels (15-26) got four hits from Erick Aybar but only two more from the rest of the lineup. They were 0-for-7 with runners in scoring position.

"It was a frustrating night in the batter's box for us," Angels manager Mike Scioscia said.

Stults had something to do with that. He walked three and struck out two but mixed and matched his pitches well enough to keep the Angels guessing. He threw 97 pitches, the most he's thrown in one game since his first -- and only -- start for the White Sox on May 7 when he threw 66 pitches.

"It's not easy coming from Indiana four days ago, being claimed, getting here and being told that you're starting," Black said of Stults. "But he's been around the block. It was good to see him rise to the occasion."

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