Impressive pitching performances have been plentiful during the San Diego Padres' recent run of success. Eric Stults has been one of the few members of the staff not contributing positively, however.
Stults will get yet another chance to end his lengthy losing streak Wednesday night against the Philadelphia Phillies, though he'll be matched up against Cliff Lee, who has been dominant of late.The Padres (66-77) picked up their fourth straight win and sixth in seven games with an 8-2 victory in Tuesday's opener at Citizens Bank Park as Andrew Cashner limited the Phillies (66-78) to two runs over 7 2/3 innings. San Diego owns a collective 1.50 ERA over its last six victories.Stults (8-13, 4.07 ERA) was responsible for the team's lone loss in its last seven contests when he surrendered a career-worst seven runs and nine hits -- including three homers -- in 4 2/3 innings of a 13-5 defeat to San Francisco last Wednesday.Stults hasn't won since before the All-Star break, going 0-6 with a 5.68 ERA over his last nine starts, though his offense hasn't helped him much with an average of 2.92 runs of support in those games.He's failed to pitch at least seven innings in 11 of his last 13 starts after doing so seven times in his previous 16 starts, raising speculation that he is wearing down as the season draws to a close.Stults has pitched 179 1/3 innings this year after never throwing more than 99 in a season."I feel fine physically but obviously this is a time of the year when a lot of guys ... September is a hard month," Stults said. "But you just have to keep pushing through it."The southpaw didn't record a decision in his only career start versus Philadelphia, yielding two runs and seven hits over seven innings of a 4-3 win June 24.Roy Halladay, who has been suffering from flu-like symptoms, has been shifted to start Thursday with Lee (12-6, 3.01) taking his place Wednesday.He is 2-0 with a 1.93 ERA over his last four starts, striking out 27 in 28 innings. He gave up only a solo homer and one additional hit while throwing eight innings in a 2-1 win over Atlanta on Friday. His 10 strikeouts were one shy of a season high.Lee's 3.57 run-support average is higher than only eight other qualifying pitchers, all of whom have fewer than 12 victories.He gave up two runs in eight innings of a 4-3 loss at San Diego on June 24. He had been 1-2 with a 7.79 ERA in his three previous starts against the Padres.Chase Headley, who has collected at least one hit in 14 of his last 16 games and was 3 for 5 on Tuesday, is 6 for 13 off Lee with two doubles.Philadelphia had won 23 of the past 30 meetings prior to Tuesday.