WASHINGTON -- To be clear, Padres reliever Mike Adams was talking about his right shoulder on Saturday when he said, "I have good days and bad days. Recently, I've had more bad days than good days."

On the mound, though, Adams has certainly had many more good days than bad in 2008, as he's emerged as the Padres' most reliable reliever since being promoted from Triple-A Portland on May 22.

Entering Saturday's game against the Nationals, Adams has posted the top ERA (2.49) in the National League among relievers with at least 50 innings pitched since May 22. He's also second in the league in strikeouts (69) over that same span.

"Mike has grown into a more integral part of our bullpen, and it's all about performance," manager Bud Black said. "He's thrown the ball great. I think with him and Heath [Bell] and Trevor [Hoffman], you know, you'll see those guys a lot of times when we have a lead late in games. Performance has dictated that he pitch in the sixth, maybe seventh inning if we have a lead."

Better still, the 30-year-old Adams has been remarkably consistent, despite dealing with what Black calls a "cranky" shoulder.

"I feel like I've thrown a lot this season," said Adams, who has pitched 61 1/3 innings in 2008. "I just credit the training staff for keeping me out there. Yesterday, I didn't feel too good at all. But I got my work done in the training room, and I was ready."

There have been a few times in the last month or so when the Padres backed off Adams, though he was never down for more than one day. Never once, though, have Adams or the Padres considered shutting it down for 2008.

"It's been an everyday thing for the past couple of weeks," Adams said. "It feels good enough for me to go out and throw. Once I start to get loose, it starts to feel good. After the game is when it gets sore.

"It's important for me to finish the season. My bullpen guys out there, they been out there doing the same thing I'm doing. No one out there is feeling 100 percent. The pain hasn't got to the point where I've thought about shutting it down."

Adams, who has emerged as the Padres' primary seventh-inning pitcher, has a 1.80 ERA in September and shows no sign of wear and tear. Asked what his success this season might mean going into 2009, the right-hander declines to think ahead.

"The season is not over. I'm not satisfied yet," Adams said. "When the 29th comes around, I'll take a look at my stats and see where I stand. But from day to day, I'm pretty happy with it."